Knowledge is power: A scoping study on women’s safety

Project Active from to State Effectiveness and State

Bihar is ranked 3rd highest in terms of the percentage of women (nearly 43.2%) who experienced physical, sexual or emotional spousal violence (NFHS-4, 2017). Moreover, evidence suggests that the actual, as well as the perceived threat of women being attacked outside the home often deter them from working outside (Sudarshan, 2009; Chakraborty et. al, 2018). These alarming numbers suggest that women do not feel safe outside nor inside their homes.

One of the reasons for this could be the lack of awareness as to what constitutes a crime against women and the various laws against such crimes. It is unclear what awareness exists about the existing laws and whether making a woman self-dependent and equipping her (and her family) with the required information regarding the various laws may reduce the incidence of these crimes.

This project aims to address the following research questions:

  1. Can awareness workshops positively boost self-esteem and improve confidence, thereby eventually affecting women’s willingness to complete schooling, be a part of the labour force and delay age at first marriage? Does this effect persist over time or fade away within a few months of the intervention?
  2. Does knowledge dissemination of this kind have spillover effect on other female classmates, friends and other female household members, such as mothers and siblings? If it does, this will be of particular policy interest as this project can be then considered at a larger scale via similar training and workshops conducted at the school level.

The researchers will conduct a scoping field experiment among adolescent girls enrolled in standards 8-12 in Patna, in collaboration with the school authorities. Using detailed baseline and post-training surveys, the researchers plan to explore whether the proposed programme can be an effective tool to help deter crimes against women; captured via feelings of safety, questions on self-esteem, locus of control, personality, mental health, subjective wellbeing, willingness to continue studies, get employed and expected age to get married. The researchers aim to understand the extent of spillover effects and whether such a policy will be acceptable to the households of these students and school authorities if such a training programme is phased out on a large scale.