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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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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)

24 months.

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

  • No


Join the conversation:

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

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