Gender-based violence and inequality are a sad reality in many countries around the world. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence. These acts can leave women with painful repercussions, both physically and psychologically. In many areas of the world, these women are shunned from their families and communities. Unable to find work, women are left with limited abilities to provide for themselves and their children. Furthermore, children who grow up in families with violence often perpetuate or experience violence later in life. To end the cycle, educating and empowering youth from an early age is a vital step in overcoming these obstacles.
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), in collaboration with Breakthrough Communications PL and the Independent Television Service, Inc. (ITVS), has launched a new initiative on gender-based violence prevention in Delhi, India. The initial training took place October 10 and 11, 2017, in conjunction with International Day of the Girl Child. The project promotes a positive school climate and safe learning environment for all students. LCIF allocated US$100,000 in seed funding for this multi-organizational collaborative project.
The initial pilot intervention, titled “Dosti Ka Safar” (The Journey of Friendship), was built using Lions Quest lessons and programming, and will help foster and cultivate greater gender equity among 2,000 youth in New Delhi and surrounding regions. This customized intervention utilizes teacher-led discussions, serialized films, and the Lions Quest model of “skills practice” to extend constructive behaviors from the lessons into the everyday classroom and community.
It is a shining example of the positive youth development skills Lions Quest has fostered in millions of young people.
“Lions Clubs International Foundation is honored to collaborate with transformative pioneers,” says Chancellor Bob Corlew, Chairman of LCIF. “This Lions Quest project will bring positive social change and make a difference for thousands of women and girls in the Delhi area. It is a shining example of the positive youth development skills Lions Quest has fostered in millions of young people.”
“[This curriculum] will enable [adolescents] to identify and access support systems and resources that exist in their surroundings, address and prevent discrimination and violence and create safer spaces for themselves and their peers,” says Pauline Gomes, Senior Manager at Breakthrough.
India Engagement Coordinator Abhishek Srivastava adds that they are excited and honored to have partnered with other organizations in launching this one-of-a-kind curriculum-based intervention.
To reach these ambitious goals, Lions Quest and partners trained teachers from nine local schools in social and emotional learning, as well as overcoming patriarchal norms, gender biases and stereotypes in the initial pilot. All classrooms received printed teacher books, student journals, videos, and copies of “Priya’s Shakti,” a celebrated graphic novel about a female rape victim turned super hero in an Indian village.
Earlier in 2017, Lions Clubs International signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, to further LCI’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
For more than 30 years, Lions Quest has developed and implemented a comprehensive, evidence-based social and emotional learning program in schools all over the world. Through curriculum dissemination, professional development, and community engagement, more than 16 million youth have benefited from the program. The project in India marks a new milestone in Lions’ service to youth worldwide. It inspires a hopeful future where men and women have the same opportunities, and all people are free to live a safe and happy life.