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Supporting Women in India: Understanding Family Planning and Intimate Partner Violence

USAID’s Abt-led SHOPS Plus project ran a highly successful campaign in India that reached 24 million people and changed minds about family planning as a form of intimate partner violence.

India, like many other countries, has implemented quarantines and lockdowns to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. A consequence of an extended quarantine and other physical distancing measures is women’s increased vulnerability to intimate partner violence, and restricted access to family planning services. Pre-existing gender inequalities, harmful norms, financial stress, crowded homes, increased exposure to abusers at home, and more domestic work has exacerbated violence in the home.

To confront this problem, SHOPS Plus developed an integrated intimate partner violence and family planning digital campaign, targeting women and their partners using #KyaYeHinsaNahi? (Is this not violence). Because gender norms push women, men, and bystanders to accept violence as part of life, this campaign sought to help women recognize violent behavior early and identify it as unacceptable. It also educated the audience to recognize reproductive coercion, or denying access to family planning, as a form of intimate partner violence.

SHOPS Plus partnered with Momspresso, India’s largest online community of young mothers (with a digital platform that has over 30 million readers) to gauge the audience’s knowledge of intimate partner violence, design the campaign, and amplify its message. Momspresso facilitated collaboration with approximately 213 influencers, each with a fanbase ranging between 2,000 and 100,000 followers. To see typical Instagram posts, look here and here. Engagement (likes and comments) totaled over 450,000 clicks across channels. The campaign achieved a 2.1 percent engagement rate, higher than Momspresso’s average rate of 1.5 percent.

The campaign encouraged women to call the SHOPS Plus helpline, through which they would be screened.  Those seeking a confidential way to speak with a counselor on family planning topics were referred to the SHOPS Plus helpline. Those who needed support addressing intimate partner violence were referred to the Indian NGO, Shakti Shalini, to receive specialized counselling.

During the campaign, calls to the SHOPS Plus helpline increased by 25 percent. The India Social Responsibility Network also worked to promote the campaign and the SHOPS Plus helpline through its network of over 800 grassroots volunteer organizations and trainings for frontline health workers.

The campaign concluded in April 2021 and cumulatively reached over 24 million people through influencers, Facebook Live interviews with gynecologists, and several blog posts from gynecologists. Momspresso conducted a post-campaign survey and found that 81 percent of the women who received the messaging now consider not having a say in contraception as a form of violence, compared to 56 percent in a pre-campaign survey. Through Abt’s strong partnerships, we were able to demonstrate that thoughtful messaging, and integrated campaigns can play an important role in amplifying messaging and providing critical support to women who experienced intimate partner violence.

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