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Gender-based Civics Training for Women Scaling Across India

Institutions & Governance Gender and Agency

A woman shows her election ink in India, a symbol of her participation. © Kailash Kumar –

Women participate more in politics when trained via local women’s group

Soledad Prillaman (Stanford) and local NGO Pradan, designed and piloted a new “gender training” to inform women in rural India of their rights and encourage them to participate in local politics. Now, in part based on findings from the pilot and Pradan’s advocacy, the Indian government is testing the feasibility of scaling these trainings across the country.

In India, many rural women participate in Self Help Groups (SHGs). These groups of 10-20 women help participants access credit and save, and meeting regularly also empowers them to work together on local issues. For this CEGA-funded project supported by the Economic Development and Institutions (EDI) program, Pradan collaborated with Prillaman to design and implement a training program to help more than eight thousand women in SHGs visit local council meetings, and understand their rights and women’s under-representation in politics. As a result of the training, women substantially increase their political participation: women in SHGs who received the training were twice as likely to attend village meetings, petition for government benefits or services, and participate in campaigns than women in SHGs who did not receive training.

Now, drawing on evidence from this research and Pradan’s advocacy, India’s flagship poverty alleviation program—the National Rural Livelihood Mission—plans to implement and scale the program across all SHGs in India. This means the training could reach up to 200 million women across 20 million groups, given that the Indian government has massively expanded the number of SHGs as part of a commitment to making them available to all women in rural villages.

To help guide the expansion, Prillaman will continue to engage with a two-year pilot to understand how to scale these trainings in SHGs, so that the trainings remain relevant, sustainable, and effective across India.

For more information, see Soledad Prillaman’s EDI Covid-19 Essay about this project.

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