MAVA: Engaging Men in India’s Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

DAWN is celebrating a year of collaboration with MAVA! Here, DAWN member Umang gives a brief history of our partnership.

MAVA founder Harish Sadani with participants at July 2016 roundtable event
MAVA founder Harish Sadani with participants at July 2016 roundtable event in Mumbai

What began as a response to a newspaper ad in India seeking men “who feel that wives are not for battering…,” formed in 1993 into the organization MAVA (Men Against Violence & Abuse). Since its founding MAVA has worked to address the issue of masculinity in tackling Violence Against Women (VAW). In this it moved away from traditional ways widely used in India that focused on the empowerment of women alone while keeping men out of the picture. Over the years, MAVA has evolved a variety of programs and processes to take the conversation and work of grappling with masculinity. It has initiated a youth helpline (Yuva Maitri) which offers guidance and information to youth in areas of Maharashtra in western India on issues of gender relations, sex education etc. It has also been running Gender sensitization educational programs at various colleges in Mumbai and some other cities in Maharashtra for about 10 years now.

MAVA’s approach to include men as “partners” and “stakeholders” in the fight against VAW and its vast grassroots experience made it an ideal partner for DAWN to engage with. DAWN, which aims to work towards ending VAW in a well-rounded manner, has formed partnerships with organizations in India which work in the more conventional public health and VAW space. For its “Men and Boys endeavor,” MAVA has been an ideal fit to expand and enrich the scope of DAWN’s work. In particular, MAVA’s college-based Gender Sensitization program is being supported by DAWN as it is a well-established-and-received program – and it affects the segment of young adults.