IN Gender Frauen
IN Gender Frauen
Equality in India

New ways of thinking to combat violence and discrimination

Targeted campaigns in the Marathwada region sensitise young people, adults and state actors against gender based violence and discrimination. Through a holistic approach, the dream of a life free of violence should finally become a reality for as many girls and women as possible.


Country, region:
Marathwada, Indien
März 2023 - Februar 2026
Total project budget:
1,657,186 CHF


In India, the extreme gender inequality is reflected in a high level of violence against women, with domestic violence commonplace. Many women are under the age of 18 when they get married. This project therefore focuses on preventing domestic violence and ending child marriages. SWISSAID and the local partner organizations work together with state actors to mobilize the entire society and thus enable sustainable change. For a future in which women experience less violence and more self-determination.

This project is co-financed by the European Union.

The Marathwada region in the state of Maharashtra is underdeveloped. 30 percent of families live below the poverty line. The level of education is low and malnutrition is widespread. Increased drought poses further challenges for the 20 million people living in the Marathwada region in central India. Suicides among farmers are not uncommon; many people migrate and try their luck in another state

Patriarchal structures

Against this backdrop, many patriarchal structures prevail. «Indian girls should be married off early to avoid sexual confusion.» According to a study, 67 percent of Indian men in Marathwada are of this opinion. Yet it is precisely child marriage that leads to a life without rights and education for girls.

Many girls are married before their 18th birthday. In most cases, a dowry is paid.

It is often accompanied by early pregnancies, which are a great psychological and physical burden for the girls. According to a study, almost half of the women in the Marathwada region are married off as underage girls (young women aged between 20 and 24 were surveyed).

Another problem is domestic violence. Around 42 percent of respondents believe that violence by the husband towards his wife is justified under certain circumstances and that the wife should tolerate it for the good of the family. Domestic violence is commonplace in India. Victims receive little to no help from their families, communities and the government.

Women are often victims of various forms of violence.

This is why SWISSAID, together with local partner organizations, supports women in building a life free of violence. Prevention measures are designed to raise awareness of the issue not only among girls and women, but also among boys and men. Sneha Giridhari from SWISSAID India was able to see the effectiveness of the prevention measures for herself on site. She says that it is important to work with young people in particular in order to bring about fundamental change.

IN Frauen Gender

The project staff gives the pupils playful input on gender equality.

Peers as role models

But what is the best way to reach young people? In over 100 villages in the Marathwada region, SWISSAID relies on so-called «peer educators» from existing groups of boys and girls. A few motivated and socially competent young people from each group are trained in gender issues.

At the monthly meetings of the youth groups, they present various topics for discussion. For example: What is masculine? What is female? What does violence mean for the victim? What for the perpetrator? What are the consequences of child marriage for those affected? Songs, discussions, posters and role-playing games are used to explore the topics in a playful way. In addition to the monthly meetings, there is also the opportunity to get advice.

«This type of sensitization can raise awareness of these issues. And that is the breeding ground in which new ways of thinking can grow.»

Sneha Giridhari, SWISSAID India.

Women's sponsorship

Women are particularly affected by hunger, poverty and violence. With a women's sponsorship you can strengthen the women in our projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America

New ways of thinking in which child marriage, for example, no longer has a place. This is because child marriage and domestic violence are closely linked, as studies show: The younger the women are, the more often they become victims of domestic violence.

Archana Suryawanshi experienced this first-hand. She was married off as a 15-year-old girl. Around six years later, her husband started drinking. He beat and abused Archana every day in front of their two young daughters. One day she could take it no longer and fled with her children.

In her distress, she turned to our local partner organization, which fights against domestic violence.

Holistic change

You have to start with the young – stop with the old. Public campaigns such as rallies, video clips and poster campaigns should spread the message of gender equality as widely as possible.

In addition to social approaches, state actors must not be ignored. They must be aware of their role and actively offer support if necessary. Be it legal services or state counseling offices: The aim is to ensure that child marriage and violence against women are taken seriously. This is why representatives of institutions are also sensitized.

Through this broad approach, SWISSAID supports measures that are intended to initiate change in society as a whole. So that gender based violence and discrimination in Marathwada will soon be a thing of the past.

In the case of Archana Suryawanshi, a conversation took place with her husband. He made a commitment to stop drinking and violence. Today, the young woman lives with her children and husband again.

«Peace has returned to our household,» she says happily. «Thanks to the advice from the local partner organization, I felt very supported. It has changed my life.»

Archana Suryawanshi