Men’s Action to Stop Violence Against Women (MASVAW) is a state-wide community intervention initiative and campaign against gender-based violence in Uttar Pradesh, India. MASVAW constitutes a network of men who feel it is their responsibility as individuals and as communities to transform gender relations. MASVAW’s approach is to engage in action at multiple levels, from individual activist awareness raising activities; to advocacy, support and referrals for survivors; to internal change within local political and educational institutions. MASVAW also works with men in peer groups using a participatory experiential learning methodology that explicitly encourages reflection on the dilemmas and tensions of male power and privilege.
Cross-sectional survey research was undertaken over five months in 2009 to assesses the gender transformative qualities of the MASVAW approach. Namely, the extent to which campaign activists are incorporating gender equitable attitudes and practices into their own lives, as well as influencing men around them in order to explore any diffusion effect.
Using a gender behaviour/belief scale to understand change, the results suggest that membership in MASVAW and exposure to the campaign is correlated with more progressive gender attitudes and behaviours in men. Study limitations include the possibilities of men providing socially desirable answers (towards MASVAW), and the lack of engagement with women who have experienced these changes directly. In terms of future action, there is a need to move beyond interpersonal violence towards challenging entrenched discriminatory norms and attitudes around gender that influence women’s control over their own lives and sexuality.