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Operation PeaceMaker

Operation PeaceMaker seeks to give women and girls choices to live lives free from abuse, violence, and exploitation. Safe and prosperous.

Photo of Hannah Surabhi
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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Kindly go through the 27 page image set to see insights on Beneficiary Feedback and the User Experience Map.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

Domestic violence is one of the most widespread issues in the country, but in the community of Golconda, an area that is just 3 square kilometers, the issue is the single most pervasive problem that families face. Domestic violence is exacerbated by several factors, the most significant being the severe control over women. Women do not have a voice, and their lives are completely under the control of elders and male relatives. Yet, the burden of the family care is on them. She must run the household, yet fear going outside of it. Women state that if they had the power, if they had a voice, they are sure they could change things to end violence and create peace in families. PeaceMakers are by definition community assets. No one could be as effective in supporting a victim of domestic violence in understanding her choices to end it. PeaceMakers are not a quick fix to the problem. They are a permanent asset to their community.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

There are many interrelated issues affecting domestic violence in this community. Violence in various forms is increasing including sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, child marriage, alcoholism, bigamy, increased rate of affairs, etc. In a community where male privilege and patriarchy protect men and boys from any accountability, many issues are on the rise. Alcoholism, lack of respect for police, and lack of education also contribute to the these issues.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

Crucial to the impact of the PeaceMaker model is - Working with men and extended families - Early prevention through community and school workshops - Educate young boys before they become hardened to crime - Educate the community on linkage of various issues and forms of violence - Access to formal justice system - Reducing the scope of local orthodox male religious figures interference and curbing women’s rights - Working with police to build trust in the justice system

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Over time, incidences of violence will reduce and community mindset will show change. Changing mindsets is a long term effort, but women will receive help with cases immediately. Adding 25 PeaceMakers to this community will result in around 250 cases of violence being resolved in the first year. Since PeaceMakers are permanent assets in their community, their impact will reach far beyond the support of BridgeBuilder or even the PeaceMaker Program.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

An overview of learnings is provided in the User Experience Map question above (look at attached images). Our team has thoroughly enjoyed this process, but acknowledges the need for more time to go through the insights to analyze them for impact on the idea. Key take aways that have already emerged are: - Need to focus on parents as gatekeepers for permission to access rights. - Need to help women gain perspective on the home environment so that it is not simultaneously seen as the only safe place, yet the only place you accept beatings, abuse, and discrimination. - Need to include a community-led training component for all key team members to become better acquainted with deep nuances of this community. This was the goal.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

- Train 20-25 new PeaceMakers per year - Hire demographically relevant Senior Counselor - Hire demographically relevant Junior Counselor - Legal Aid already provided - Expand reach from 3 square kilometer Golconda community within historic wall limits to additional areas identified as high-risk. These areas have already been identified and have waiting lists of PeaceMakers wanting training. - Expand training to target adult males and parents in year 2, after first 25 PeaceMakers have more experience in the field. - Expand crisis support for highly vulnerable women and children, making escaping from abuse feasible and practical. (Not a part of BridgeBuilder funding)

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

The team that will implement this idea is a combination of experienced core trainers and program managers, and a batch of 25 new Peacemakers. The idea will benefit from the infrastructure of the wide Operation PeaceMaker team, but will hire 1 new Senior Counselor and train 25 new PeaceMakers to serve the Golconda community. This Counselor will be a Muslim woman with a professional certification in Psychology, while the PeaceMakers will be women from the community.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

BridgeBuilder funds would primarily be allocated to: - Initial training and ongoing capacity building of 25 PeaceMakers (increasing that number over 2-3 years with 1 training per yr) - Honorarium for PeaceMakers - Salary for Senior Counselor (specialized Legal Aid already covered) - Training costs for community and school workshops - Building rent for Community Center that acts as the safe space where women can openly and safely access help.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

We are very open minded about this phase and are looking forward to any and all feedback.

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

We received very valuable insights into community-specific needs that we were not addressing completely. The community voiced concern over distrust in the police to take action and follow up. Police-Community engagement sessions will improve Police sensitization, and give the Community confidence in Police approachability and accountability. 2. There is a need to address difference between religion and culture in all core team and PeaceMaker training. Many harmful norms are passed off as religious, when they are not at all rooted in religion, but in local culture. The culture of violence is in many ways unique in this community. 3. We identified the need to go further in our efforts to include adult men in solutions. We will initiate programs to create adult male Community Champions, to be active voices in their community speaking to men about healthy views of power and control and violence.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Operation PeaceMaker seeks to prevent and intervene on domestic violence in Telangana, India by training and equipping local women to become PeaceMakers. A PeaceMaker is a local woman trained as a counselor and paralegal who works within her own community, providing contextualized, free services to victims of domestic violence and their families. She is not an outsider, but a woman from the community, working for her community. This makes her uniquely capable to address the local context of gender-injustice in her community. In this way, she is more effective than any social worker, police person, judicial aid, or other outsider could ever be. Operation PeaceMaker has developed unique solutions that work within cultural contexts of India, and facilitate community transformation. It is particularly effective at the intersection of gender and class discrimination. The poor are disproportionately affected by violence largely because they lack access to information about their rights. Our PeaceMakers are able to address this because they are women who work within their own communities, intervening in the lives of women who would never otherwise have means to learn about their rights. Operation PeaceMaker provides women and girls access to their human right through education and free services including counseling, case management, and legal aid. India’s laws are progressive in prohibiting violence against women, however, these laws remain largely unenforced, and prevailing institutional and cultural disincentives for women to report incidents of violence remain. The cultural barriers to reporting incidents of violence and accessing rights for protection from it are greatly eased by the work of PeaceMakers, as they are local women who are able to use knowledge of their communities to target women most in need of support and address them in ways that are relevant. PeaceMakers are used by micro-finance initiatives to improve the individual agency of their clients

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are women and girls living in areas in and around the cities of Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and Warangal in Telangana, India, who have been impacted by domestic violence or who are susceptible to it. By extension, our work impact thousands of families. Operation PeaceMaker has made a tremendous impact in the three largest cities of Telangana, India (a state that is among those ranked worst for gender based violence). 204 PeaceMakers (grassroots paralegals) trained to be change agents in their own communities. 71 PeaceMakers currently active, employed with the NGO. Over 75,000 women and girls trained on laws relevant to human rights, domestic violence, child marriage, sexual abuse, discrimination, human trafficking and more. Each of these individuals are connected with resources to receive support in accessing their rights, and making the choice for safety and equal rights. Over 4,400 cases of domestic violence handled, 77% of which have been resolved.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Operation PeaceMaker's approach to addressing domestic violence is unique among other initiatives for several reasons including: 1. Operation PeaceMaker harnesses the unique power of local women to affect change within their own communities. In this way, support is highly contextualized for the local community. Also, the PeaceMaker is able to reach (gain access to) women who otherwise would never have access to knowledge about her rights, or the support available to help her determine her path to peace. 2. Operation PeaceMaker believes that men and boys are at least 50% of the solution, and works to include them in the process. Every PeaceMaker is trained on how to provide counseling to men, including the perpetrators of abuse, and work to make them into allies of gender-equality instead of enemies. 3. Operation PeaceMaker seeks holistic, community transformation. By placing families at the center of solutions, we are able to work with and help transform entire communities.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

My Choices Foundation addresses domestic violence through Operation PeaceMaker, and the prevention of sex-trafficking through Operation Red Alert. Innovation is at the core of what we do as we seek to fill the gaps in work to address gender-based violence and exploitation.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Our Founder began her research for founding an NGO, knowing that she wanted to provide solutions for women's empowerment in India, and assuming that these solutions would lie in financial empowerment. She had over a decade of experience in the finance and banking sector, and micro-finance in particular. Yet, when she met with NGOs, women's groups, and women in India, they all asked for solutions to the same unaddressed problem - violence happening inside of homes.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

In India, between 40%-80% of married women experience violence in their own homes. In most places, this would be labeled a civil war. Over 50% of men, women, girls and boys in India believe that a man hitting his wife is a justifiable expression of masculinity. Women and girls are unaware of their rights, and are disconnected from resources that can help them access their rights. The impact of gender-based violence on prosperity is becoming an increasing concern. When half the population is held back due to the imbalance of power and control under patriarchal norms, families, communities, and countries are also held back. In India, seeking transformation for women and families is subject to highly nuanced cultural, religious, and traditional contexts. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every community, so paths toward peace and prosperity require massive participation and ownership from local communities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

As outlined, community participation is key to our work. Beyond this, we have also partnered with the local police and are their official partners to handle cases of domestic violence. In this way, we help ensure that women who come forward for help are met with understanding, acceptance, and adequate services. We also work with adolescent girls to create and execute Safe Community Projects, which are projects designed by girls in high-risk urban slums. We assist girls in the design and implementation of their projects to achieve improved safety in their communities, in ways that are most important to them.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

In our Communities: - Victims are desperate for solutions - Key service providers have a sense of urgency on this topic, including police, judiciary, NGOs, etc - Schools are open to our programs, so we can work towards prevention - We have already established a strong word-of-mouth reputation for being inclusive of local customs and contexts

Geographic Focus

Operation PeaceMaker focusses on intensive change in the state of Telangana.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project is established in a program that already has experience in other communities. This project is in particular trying to tackle the complexities of the Golconda community, which has hitherto provided the most significant challenges to our work. During the period of 24-30 months, we will establish new PeaceMakers with fresh training modules, and new approaches that meet this community's particular needs.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Arzoo E Karbala

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Photo of Macheru Karuku

Hi Hannah,
I take my hat off for your bravery in confronting this vice that has been disguised in the name of culture. We have our own type of gender abuse, violence and exploitation but it pales in comparison when India is mentioned.
One of my team members had a short study stay in India and she tells me about stories that none can envy.
You state correctly that if one's immediate family and relatives protect their female members, more than half of the problems will be over.
The world should join you and all other heroins like you to dissuade those who abuse women and girls to cover for their own weaknesses.
All the best Hannah.

Photo of Kathleen Rommel

Hi Hannah,

Thank you for sharing this project and for all your hard work. I agree with the comments below—it's great that you are including men and boys in this. In moving this project forward and including the community in the solution, are you finding any challenges in reaching those who are most at risk? Are there any strategies you've found particularly successful?

Keep up the great work!

Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Hi Kathleen Rommel ,

You're right, access is always the big barrier, no matter which community we work. The women in this community are in many ways cut off from help: Their lack of education limits their knowledge of choices that are available, and their lack of agency limits their ability to pursue options for recourse. The PeaceMaker Program was designed to specifically address this issue. Since they are local women who work part time as PeaceMakers, they have full lives in the community and often have second jobs as beauticians or mehendi artists. They are sisters, aunts, cousins, neighbors, etc to other women in the community. In this way, PeaceMakers "infiltrate" their own community with hope, knowledge, education and support. They already know which woman in the community is most at risk, they know the stories coming from the household down the street. They also know the particular challenges/barriers that women face in getting help, and are able to help create contextualized solutions.

Another aspect of our work that has proved successful is ensuring that we have a reputation for being a Family Counseling service. We speak to the whole family with respect, and seek to understand the male point of view as well. Each of our Counseling Centers and our PeaceMakers are highly trusted in the community. Even in this Golconda community, where there is the highest level of distrust for any kind of women's program, the community generally looks at our Center as a safe space for women and girls. In this particular community, we have also put other steps in place like ensuring that we moved into a Community Center building that had existed for many years running a women's tailoring program. We inherited the good reputation of this program, and we have ensured that we continue to run the skills training program to support the community growth in more ways than addressing violence.

We would love to share more - if you're ever in Hyderabad feel free to get in touch, visit us in Golconda, and meet some PeaceMakers.

Photo of Kathleen Rommel

Thanks so much for your response—this approach to engaging the community directly, and empowering them to spread the word throughout the community, seems like a really effective way. I look forward to hearing more about your program as you continue, and keep up the great work!

Photo of Marnie Glazier

This is such a great project and I really appreciate your focus on education - and also on including men and boys as well as women and girls. This I think is really key to changing the entire ecosystem.

Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Hi Marnie Glazier , Thank you for your comment! We agree, boys and men are key to the solution. We are so proud to have just launched a new program specifically for the long term mentorship (12-18months) of adolescent boys wherein they become "Asli Champions" (real champions) fn their community and work on community projects of their own design. The only way to move forward is together!

Photo of Marnie Glazier

This is a great idea and I'm so inspired to hear on your ongoing work!

Photo of Anubha Sharma

Dear Hannah,
Im so glad you are working towards empowerment of women facing domestic violence. Its terrible that women today have to live under such reprehensible conditions, economic dependence is the root of this evil and mindsets need to be changed, educating the youth about the ills of these practices is absolutely the right place to start. Best of luck.

Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Hi Anubha Sharma , thank you very much for your comment and words of encouragement! You are absolutely right. Women must be built up and empowered with understanding of their own capacity, strength, and capability so that they understand they do not have to be dependent on others for everything. In fact, a turning point for both men and women (victim and abuser) is often the realization that women are capable partners to share in generating income and in decision making. Not only is this empowering to women, but it can be liberating to men who were raised to understand their own masculinity in terms of absolute control over family resources. For many men, it is a huge relief to finally recognize their wife as an equal partner in their family responsibilities. This also ensure that their children are raised differently, and are taught to respect female agency. Typically, this realization among men is hard won and takes a lot of challenging Counseling to achieve, but we work towards it whenever possible as we believe it is important for to break the cycle of abuse.

Photo of Auden McKernan

women's rights are truly the key to any prosperous and secure society. Raising awareness amongst boys and men as well is very crucial. I would recommend their engagement.

Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Auden McKernan - thank you for your comment! We agree wholeheartedly, and are expanding our programs for boys and young men in particular. We already conduct workshops for boys in schools and colleges, and recently launched a long-term mentorship and community building program for adolescent boys. This was a very interesting component of our Community Feedback stage as well, where we learned that community women thought getting older men on board with change would be beneficial as well. We are planning to work towards the engagement of parents/fathers.

Photo of James Patton

Hannah Surabhi 

Thanks for sharing your project! The Operation PeaceMaker approach is incredibly aware of local complexities and that is a serious value-add for this type of work! Are the 204 trained PeaceMakers, the grassroots paralegals, connected to one another in a network or are they working on individual cases?

Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Hi James Patton 
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, and your question.
Yes, the PeaceMakers are connected to each other in a network. This is very important to their success. Since these women are selected from within the communities they serve, they represent those communities. In most cases, this means they have below 10th grade education. The ongoing training, skill development, and capacity building is our biggest investment of time and resources for the PeaceMaker Program. The PeaceMakers all have a primary Counseling Center that serves as the base for their work. The Center is a safe space for them to meet with their clients, but it is also the place from which all training and program management happens. PeaceMakers work alongside professional Counselors and Legal Aids not just for their own capacity building, but also to provide specialized support to clients. PeaceMakers have regular group meetings with these Counselor and Legal Aid team members to share their case stories, ask questions, and receive input.

We are firm believers that alone we can do little, but together we can accomplish the impossible. PeaceMakers are strengthened by existing in a community of other incredibly brave women who choose daily to love the world again, and fight for peace in their community. They handle individual cases, but with the support of a network of PeaceMakers and other core team whose skills exceed and therefore guide their own.

Photo of Kate Chance

Hi Hannah, I love this method of dealing with this huge problem! This a great way to use the knowledge and experience of local women to help others. Will you work to change the mindsets of men as well? I think that your idea of providing counseling to the perpetrators is excellent; however, would you consider working with younger boys (perhaps teenagers?): getting them to help take action against domestic violence they notice and avoid doing the same? Best of luck!

Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Hi Kate Chance !
Thank you for your comment and questions - you make great points!
Yes, working with men and boys is of critical importance. We believe that they are at least 50% of the SOLUTION. We do work with adolescent boys through our schools and colleges programs wherein PeaceMakers and other team deliver workshops to help boys develop healthy perspectives on masculinity, relationships, respect, etc. We also ran a viral campaign in India called #Respect2Protect, in which India's cricketers took a stand asking men and boys to RESPECT women and girls in order to protect them (rather than using abuse, control, dominance, etc). The campaign addressed helping girls thrive in school, respecting their choices, rejecting victim blaming, domestic violence, and much more. When we speak with boys, we encourage them to "join the team" of Crickters and other men who respect women and girls.

Photo of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)

Hi Hannah,
I love that this project links women to their own community members and believes that the solution is within the local community rather than outside of it. My only question is in regards to your mention of micro-finance initiatives. Is there an aspect of economic empowerment here for the women who are being trained to work as PeaceMakers?
Good luck!

Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Hello Shining Hope Team!
Thanks for your question! The mention of the micro-finance was due to a cut-off on character limit. The goal in mentioning this was to show that the idea is replicable, as well as important in addressing the intersection of issues. Economic empowerment does not inherently address issues of power and control, but PeaceMakers can, and when they do it enables women to take advantage (more fully) of financial opportunities available to them.

Economic empowerment aspects in the PeaceMaker program are:
1. PeaceMakers work part time and are paid a monthly honorarium. For many of these women, it is the first skills training and first pay check the ever receive. It is a key part of their personal empowerment journey as they grow in their role and confidence as PeaceMakers.
2. Providing psycho-social support for clients is crucial to their empowerment journey, as a major issue preventing women from addressing abuse is their dependence on the financial support of the abuser. Ensuring that women are financially literate, and are assisted with options for skills development and employment is a part of the long term support that PeaceMaker clients receive.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

Hi Hannah Surabhi 

I love the Operation PeaceMaker approach. I have found working with women to link to women in need is always the best approach. You are building deep residency within your communities, strengthening local experts who belong and who can be reach no matter the time or the day. Are your teams which are now giving legal advise also trained to support the psycho-social aspects of the impact of violence? Many people think you need outside experts like psychologists for this, but we believe that community members can be trained and support to also provide this type of support. There will never be enough trained and local psychologists to work with the poor through out the world, yet because of the impact of violence these are the groups most needing the support. A colleague from Zimbabwe once said when he looked around the community for the community resources to deal with the result of violence, he realized that one of the most plentiful resources to be found in every African village was a grandmother. I imagine this is the same in your context.

Best of luck running this amazing program.


Photo of Hannah Surabhi

Hi @Angi,

Thank you for your comment and question! Your comment is very insightful to our work.
Yes, the psycho-social aspect is the strongest pillar of the training of our PeaceMakers. They are trained as counselors first and foremost, as strengthening the individual is the first step. Our PeaceMakers are also backed by a Counseling Center in each area (5 Centers in total) that is staffed with professionally trained Counselors (some who are Psychologists) and Lawyers who conduct regular capacity-building for the PeaceMakers, and provide specialized support on the PeaceMakers' cases. The PeaceMakers are often women who are not educated, so ongoing education and capacity-building is crucial to their development and ownership.

The PeaceMakers' work is so crucial because abuse is perpetuated when there is a vacuum of knowledge of the value of women and girls. Rights education is often secondary. Helping a woman understand that she is valuable enough to never deserve abuse, and resilient enough to stand up to it is the starting ground for transformation.

Thanks very much for your encouragement and questions - always great to build community!

- Hannah

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

Add these bits to your idea. It makes it even stronger.