Speaking out to challenge attitudes to women in Kolkata

drama in church

Title Speaking out to challenge attitudes to women in Kolkata
Description Gender based violence (GBV) is a huge problem across India. Many victims of domestic abuse feel unable to share their experiences due to fear, a lack of self-worth, or simply cultural acceptance. In order for this to change, people must feel challenged to speak out and address harmful and discriminatory attitudes towards women. This project gives women back their voice, confronts men with questions about how they regard women, and encourages people to speak out to change present attitudes.
Status Implementation
Dates Start: June 2015; End: 2016
Implementing partner Cyan International (India)
Location Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Sector Gender justice


Gender Based Violence (GBV) has long been an issue in India. Every half hour a woman is raped, and almost half of the population believe a man has the right to beat his wife.

In Kolkata, such attitudes are rarely challenged or questioned and are therefore allowed to continue with impunity.


Cyan IndiaThe project is led by Cyan International (India), in partnership with Swayam, a women’s rights organisation committed to ending violence against women and children, and Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta, a faith-based movement seeking to bring hope and dignity to marginalised people in Kolkata.


Discussing the story of Hagar

Giving women their voice: Women are invited to share their knowledge and experiences of gender based violence in a safe space, enabling them to honestly share with others and receive support.

Tackling the problem before it arises: The project will challenge the views of younger men before they have the responsibility of raising a family. Men who feel able to speak out within their communities will be encouraged and empowered to do so. This is integral for positive attitudes towards women to grow among men.

Appreciating the impact of local faith leaders: Faith leaders can have a substantial impact on peoples’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. We will be training church leaders in the legal and Biblical perspectives on women and gender violence. The sessions will help pastors think through what gender based violence is, have a greater understanding of what the law in India says, and to understand what the Bible says about women and how women should be treated.


group workIn September 2015, a series of workshops were held for women, encouraging then to speak out about their experiences of violence. These experiences helped to inform the training programme for church leaders, which started in October 2015 and was delivered by a group of experts. Involvement from the Bishop of Kolkata has confirmed the support of the church’s leadership. 50 church leaders attended, of which 78% had never received training on the subject of GBV. In November 2015, many of them preached about GBV in their churches. We are currently evaluating the effect of the training and preaching on the church congregations.

To support our development work visit our donate page.