Improving Urban Safety for Women

We organised a National Conference on “Safety for She: Building Equitable Urban Spaces” in partnership with the Asia Foundation, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Saftipin in November this year.

The conference was the culmination of the project on improving urban safety of women with our partners and saw the presence of who’s who from the industry involved in building safer urban spaces, from the likes of Smart City leaders of KPMG to the social media jounalists.

The conference was inaugurated by H.E. Shin Bongkil (Korean Ambassador), Dr. Ranjana Kumari (Director, Centre for Social Research), Ms. Nandita Baruah (Country Representative, The Asia Foundation), Dr. Kalpana Vishwanath (CEO and Founder, SafetiPin.)

The conference was also graced by Shri Kailash Gahlot, Transport & Environment Minister of Delhi, who shared about the initiatives of Delhi Govt. towards urban safety of women.

Centre for Social Research led the panel discussion on Police Capacity building and Systemic Challenges to Policing. We also steered passionate discussion on women’s right to access public spaces. Each panel discussion and presentation was followed by a passionate question and answer session with the audience.

At the National Conference
“People feel threatened when women access public spaces. Are smart cities really smart without women’s safety? The change in mindset is necessary as we need to be ready and willing to except women in the public spaces.”
Ms. Nandita Baruah, Country Representative, The Asia Foundation.

Dr. Ranjana Kumari (CSR) | Mr. Brijesh Singh, IG Cyber( Mah) | Mr. Murty NSN, Leader – Smart Cities (PwC) | Ms. Nilanjana Bhowmick, Journalist & Researcher | Mr. C. Ravindra, Dir. NIDEM | Ms. Shampa Tikait, Public Prosecutor – CBI

“The planning of smart cities was not done with “gender” in mind. Hence, India has a “gender blind infrastructure.”
Ms. Nilanjana Bhowmick (Journalist & Researcher)

“While challenging patriarchy we must challenge the restrictions put on women to safeguard them.”
Ms. Anika Verma (Breakthrough)

“The structure of the city needs to be changed; the cities at present are not organized keeping the vulnerable section (elderly, children, and women) of the society in mind. Then policy orientned discourses for women, effective use of technology, engagement of the police to ensure safety will enable the bigger coalition to being changes.”
Dr. Ranjan Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research.


The Centre for Social Research thanks its partners for supporting our work for women’s empowerment and ending discrimination.  None of our achievements this year would be possible without this commitment.  We’ve covered these activities throughout the annual report, but we’d like to take a special moment here to say thank you and to highlight these important partnerships

Dutch Embassy Delhi Through a major two-year grant, the embassy is supporting CSR’s fight again Pre-Natal Sex-Selection in Haryana in conjunction with the government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao program.
The Asia Foundation TAF is a longtime partner and this year supported CSR on two important initiatives:  our Safe Cities project to improve women’s safety in Bhopal, Gwalior, and Jodhpur.
German Embassy, New Delhi The German Embassy supported CSR in the launch of its office assistant training program, which trained 65 women and linked them with job opportunities.
RITES RITES has joined the Centre for Social Research this year in support our water conservation program in Sanganer, Rajasthan, which builds women’s leadership capacity along with local water conservation infrastructure.
Honda Motorcycle & Scooter Pvt. Ltd Honda, our most recent new partner, has helped us launch our training for women security guards and advance our commitment to women’s economic empowerment.  Honda also supports our work on women’s leadership in water conservation in Alwar, Rajasthan.
The Commonwealth Foundation The Commonwealth Foundation is supporting an important three-year project to advance women’s political leadership and participation.
Hanns Seidel Foundation This year, HSS and CSR advanced a long-term partnership on women’s leadership for Water Conservation and Climate Change  in Rural Rajasthan
Australian High Commission The Australian High Commission joined CSR to launch its sports for girls program in Haryana, which has enrolled nearly 300 girls in sports activities.
Facebook Our three-year partnership with Facebook has taught over 23,000 college students directly about safe online practices.   CSR is a pilot partner for Facebook’s We Think Digital training program in India.
Twitter Twitter and CSR continue to engage in dialogue on issues of online safety for women.


Global Outreach

63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

On 12th March 2019, CSR hosted a parallel event at the 63rd Commission on the status of Women organised by the UN Women. It is in the endeavor of the aforementioned that Centre for Social Research (CSR) made a 20 minute documentary film “Gumption” celebrating the triumph over problems of four brave women (Pallavi, Savita, Salma and Krishna) who struggled through poverty, depreciation and domestic violence.

Empowerment is the end to which access is the means. Access means differently to different women. The ultimate struggle for access is to be empowered and living the life one wants.

The film received enthusiastic response and audience from over 12 countries at the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. Since the social media access for Indian women is low (approx 23 percent), the film celebrated the power of the internet and social media in improving lives.

The Director of UN Women, Aparna Mehrotra appreciated the film,
“It is a powerful story of courage and resilience.”

Dr. Ranjana Kumari, along with the Global network of Women for Change

The Iranian regime that came to power in 1979, has continually oppressed women. Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research (India) stands in solidarity for ‘Free Iran’, so that women are liberated. The solidarity is also to bolster their voice and assure them that they are not alone in this battle for freedom. Dr. Ranjana Kumari supports Mrs. Rajavi in the idea of building a global front of women against fundamentalism and extremism. Free Iran is the right choice. Women from across the world who are supporting Free Iran, send out  a strong message that Iran will surely be freed under the leadership of Mrs. Rajavi.

“The Global network of Women for change support Maryam Rajavi in her struggle for freedom and Democracy in Iran. Women of Iran are suffering all forms of Gender discrimination at the hands of  oppressive Iranian government.We appeal to Global community of Women for their Support.”

Dr. Ranjana Kumari, attended the 5-day events of the Iranian Resistance’s Annual Gatherings in Ashaf 3, Albania.
Addressing an International Women’s Conference, on July 14, 2019, entitled,
“Women in the Iranian Resistance, Defying the misogynist regime, Paying the price for freedom”,she said, “When women take leadership, they can move mountains.”

UN Multi-Country Research Roundtable

UN Women at the regional level kick started a multi-country research on online/technology facilitated violence against women, so as to provide a better understanding of the nature and the scope of emerging form of Violence Against Women and Girls. The NGO meet was held on 11th October, 2019 at the UN Women India Office to provide recommendations to inform policies, plans, programming and advocacy on the issue of technology-facilitated violence.

Facebook South Asia Safety Summit
November 20, 2019 was the second edition of the South Asia Safety Summit held in New Delhi, organised by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) and Facebook, highlighting issues of individual and community safety online and offline.

The South Asia Summit had participants from around 125 civil society organisations from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan showcasing their expertise in running digital literacy programs and toolkits for the younger generation.

Cross Border Connect: Meeting with Afghan Delegation of Representatives from Civil Society Organisations

On July 3, 2019, Centre for Social Research hosted a delegation of representatives from various civil society organizations (CSOs) from Afghanistan in their Vasant Kunj office. The 22-member delegation is a part of the Afghan Advocacy Group, a segment of the Afghan Civic Engagement Programme (ACEP). ACEP is aimed at increasing engagement between CSOs and the government, increasing civic participation and developing organizational capacity of CSOs, among other goals, in Afghanistan. The Afghan delegation was touring different CSOs in India as part of their experience sharing and learning tour.

Joined by members of the CSR team, the Afghan delegation was introduced to the organization and the different projects that are being carried out through a brief presentation. After the presentation, the floor was opened up for questions by the delegation members. The members were largely interested in understanding how CSOs in India, and specifically CSR, worked with the government to introduce programs and advocate for policy changes. They also wanted to know how CSR worked to garner support and change mindsets of the local communities.

Given the cultural similarities between Indian and Afghan societies, especially surrounding women, Dr. Manasi Mishra talked about how CSR had used a multi-pronged intervention approach in many of its projects, such as BetiBachaoBetiPadhao and Sports for Girls. She emphasized on the need to engage with the government officials on different levels, the importance of role models in creating ripple effects to change mindsets, and the need to back up programs with action-based research.

The meeting with the Afghan delegation was a meaningful learning and experience sharing initiative for both organizations.

The German Delegation
A Delegation from the German Parliament visited Centre for Social Research on 13th September, 2019. The Delegation invited a discussion on women’s rights and human rights and led to an open discussion with our training program students and other local NGO members who were invited to attend the delegation. Three of our excellent trainees from the Office Assistant Program gave a presentation to elaborate on the work we have been doing in Skills Training for women empowerment.

The US Embassy
On the 9th of September, 2019 CSR and the US Embassy hosted a round table discussion on best practices of gender in workplace and addressing sexual harassment. Merri Hanson, director of Peninsula Mediation & ADR was invited to talk on “Creating Respectful Workplaces for Women.” While Ms. Hanson elaborated on the root causes of sexual harassment and gender inequality in the Workplace, the team at CSR prepared a presnetation on our participation in ICC committees and the legal rights of the harassed. The discussion was a great opportunity to exchange knowledge about theWest and Indian context.

The Chinese Delegation
Centre for Social Research hosted the Chinese Ambassador’s Wife, Dr. Bao on 27th September, 2019. Dr. Bao was familiar with our work and reached out to us for contributing towards women’s empowerment and establishing a gender-just society. Team members from various programs gave small presentations and had an enriching discussion about gender issues and strengthening the relationship between India and China.

Gender Training Institute

What did Police officers say on completing the training?

Gwalior – The participating police officials told the CSR team that they have started to think about women’s restricted mobility in public spaces, in a completely new light as a result of the training. They were empathizing with the many challenges that women face while accessing public spaces.

Jodhpur – The police officials reported the inherent flaws in gender perceptions that impact women’s mobility, giving men the agency to control how and when women use public spaces.

Bhopal – Upon completion of the training, the participants were able to identify the unsafe areas of their beats. Discussing their own beat areas through gender lens was a different exercise for them and they reported never having looked at public spaces from the perspective of ‘feeling’ and ‘gender usage’. They told the team that they will relook at public space safety of women. The fact that women need to feel safe and also see other women in public spaces in order to feel safe, humbled the male police officers who own public spaces without worrying about safety or violation.

In 2019, as part of a two-year project “Making Cities Safe for Women in India”, CSR addressed Police capacity building, as well as facilitated dialogue with key stakeholders towards building equitable urban spaces for women.

In the Q1 2019, GTI completed gender sensitization training for police officials in Bhopal, Gwalior and Jodhpur. The training focused on urban safety of women and addressed public place violence.

Folowing these training sessions, GTI also released a Police Training manual titled, “Gender Sensitive Policing in Public Spaces”. The manual seeks to institutionalize gender discourse by using the premise of women’s fundamental right to safe public places.

Gender, Water & Climate Change

Annual Report Draft

India is facing its worst water crisis in history, with the NITI Aayog estimating that 21 Indian states will run out of groundwater by 2020. Rajasthan has been identified as a critical and over-exploited state in this report. Alarmingly, it also has low adaptability and high sensitivity to climate change.

The Development division at CSR has worked on projects focused on linking gender, water and climate change since 2012. Primarily our work involves capacitating Elected Women Representatives (EWR’s) and Self Help Groups (SHGs) through basic and technical trainings, as well as infrastructure development.

The role of women in water conservation and recharge is integral. Providing women with a platform to engage with water conservation and recharge on both a policy level, as well as a ground level is essential. Our aim is to increase women’s participation in the climate change agenda.

Abu Road & Jaipur, Rajasthan

Our five year project “Water Conservation and Climate Change Training Program in Jaipur & Abu Road, Rajasthan 2013-2018”, in collaboration with Hanns–Seidel-Stiftung (HSS) concluded in 2018. An evaluation was conducted by an independent outside agency, The Centre for Evaluation, Germany on the same in 2019 October. Our team members accompanied the evaluator to our project sites in Jaipur and in Abu Road over a period of five days and interacted with the women we had worked with previously. It was absolutely incredible to bear witness to the amazing water conservation projects that these women had gone on to implement in their villages.

Image: Asha Sharma, Ex- Sarpanch Phagi village, with Independent Evaluator, Mr. Laszlo Szentmarjay. Under the shade of a Large tree, in a plantation developed by Asha ji.

Alwar, Rajasthan

The project in collaboration with Honda2Wheelers titled – Self Help Group (SHG) of Women for Sustainable Water Resource Management and Restoration of Water Resources in Alwar (2018-2019), helped in furthering the agenda of SHGs within the larger question of water conservation. The project concluded in July, 2019. This project has demonstrated a high social impact – we have directly worked 33 SHG women, conducting capacity-building trainings, as well as advanced technical trainings on water conservation and climate change. These trainings have reinforced traditional and existing water conservation methods and strategies alongside newer technologies, and have incorporated input and sessions from local technical experts, as well as government officials. The project also saw the construction of 5 medhbandhs (check-dams).

 “Yeh kaam to hamnekarvana hi karvanahai” – Leela, an SHG woman who was trained under the Honda project, spoke about the knowledge they gained through the trainings and how her and her fellow SHG members would see the project through.

Sanganer, Rajasthan

With the completion of the HSS and HONDA projects in 2018 and 2019 respectively, the department is now working on the initial planning and coordination of a project in collaboration with the RITES foundation in Sanganer, Rajasthan. This project seeks to work with 25 Self-Help Group women in 5 villages across Sanganer district, to make them the water conservation leaders in their communities.

Image: Focus Group Discussions with SHG women, during needs assessment visit

Women’s Skill Development

Security Guard Training

Our Security Guard training program has given confidence to the women from marginalized background to scale new heights! As part of our skill development initiative, we have been successfully running this program since 2018 in partnership with Honda2Wheleers India.

We have completed 4 batches of our WSG training program in 2019 and the trainees seeking employment have successfully placed. This is a 45-day course which includes theory and practical classes besides soft skills development classes certified under Sector Skill Council (SSC) and Private Security Regulation Act (PSARA).

84 women have successfully completed the training program and many of them have entered the Workforce and secured the job opportunities in places like Accenture, SIS, Lifestyle, Sentinels & various Metro stations.

“Dr. Ranjana Kumari, “CSR’s aim with this program is to help women achieve financial independence and at the same.

Office Assistant Training

“We at CSR. are promoting non-traditional livelihood opportunities for women through skill based training programs. The Office Assistant Training Program aims to train 100 women and girls to participate in the workforce, for their economic empowerment.”

Centre for Social Research in support with German Embassy, New Delhi has launched a unique office assistant training program at our training centre in Gurugram. We affiliated with MEPSC for the assessment and the certification process. We have trained students to utilize computer software programs for every type of Business Management Tasks, like managing spreadsheet and document formation.

We have also trained them in excel in terms like Word Processing, Spreadsheets, PowerPoint, Bookkeeping concepts, other relevant software, and Basic Administrative Skills. They are well well-equipped with skills that are required for any entry-level job. We have also put our preferences “Soft Skills” which helps them to gain confidence at various levels.

Social Media For Social Change

In the last few years, with the advancement in technology, CSR has also taken a lot of activism online, these past few years. With our regular posts – texts, images, videos, we intend to create maximum awareness amongst our followers on our feminist causes. The virtual world is a powerful platform, where, people who want to raise social issues, can make their voices heard. Social media has successfully enabled unprecedented collaboration and information-sharing in real time.

With new age and technology linking us with the rest of the world easily, we realized that it was time to take our activism online, not just for awareness but because social media too was heavily male dominated. We’ve worked extensively online to ensure that digital platforms become safe and more conscientious for women, as well as promote responsible and inclusive use of digital media so that everyone can share their thoughts freely and without the fear of bullying or prejudice.

Keeping this in mind, we’ve conducted various tweetchats and hosted participants from all over the world who have commented on our Indian context in relation to how policy changes have shaped their nations, we’ve conducted surveys and gathered data on issues such as voyeurism, online trolling, air pollution, skills development, women’s issues, we’ve encouraged women to reach out and share their stories through their handles despite the disparity between male and female users online, we’ve conducted workshops to highlight the importance of how social media is not just for “fun” and most importantly, we’ve spread awareness of gender issues in India to the corners of this world.

Our monthly #Tweetchats are testament to increasing awareness of our various programs, but also engaging our followers to share their thoughts freely on various issues. Through our Tweetchats, we’ve encouraged the responsible use of free-speech and taken these thoughts to mould our programs into more successful and feedback based models. Some of the most successful hashtags that our Tweetchats have trended range from #GirlPower, #BreathlessinDelhi, #Access2Empower, #SafeCities, #BetaSikhao, #equalrep, #endvaw, #noplanetB, #letstalkgender

With the evolution and growth of social media platforms, the expansion of knowledge and ideas also spread across the world, with the users connecting and sharing their struggles, thoughts and news from native countries and finding similar structures online. Due to the creation of this link, and users becoming more conscious of struggles, Centre for Social Research has utilized their various social media handles to spread awareness and encourage activism that leads to the establishment of a gender-just society, along with social media platforms like – Twitter & Facebook to create #TweeSurfing and #SocialSurfing, so as to primarily create awareness on

  • Online Safety
  • Counterspeech
  • Cyber Bullying and Hate Speech
  • Using Social Media to Restrict or Incite Violence
  • Creating Safe Online Spaces for Women
  • Responsible Use of Technology

Collaborating & engaging with a diverse group of around 100 influential personalities, including Jack Dorsey, was a program to create intense impact on issues pertaining to Online Safety & Responsible Communication. Our research found that the ones who use the online space more, are predominantly the youth. Hence, the present focus of the program is to bring awareness, educating them on the basics of safety & the tools available for reporting procedures along with basic morality of online communication.The year 2018 ended on a high note with TweeSurfing launch in Kolkata.

The program has successfully worked to initiate dialogue on how users can have positive online experience by maximizing the use of social media platforms. To create a positive gender sensitive online environment, the use of counter speech is promoted through sensitive campaigns. Engaging with a wide range of audiences, #SocialSurfing engaged with around thousands of college students through workshops on online safety to build their capacities and as a result bring forth gender sensitive online experiences.
Currently, the program is striving to cater to an even younger audience, as an educational program.

Achievements – Social Surfing

  • 475 workshops at colleges and universities
  • 23,000 students directly engaged
  • 400,000 social media followers (total) on Facebook and Instagram
  • 3,000 cases – WhatsApp helpline

Empowering Women to take Centre stage in politics

With women constituting  49% of the total population in India, the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB) proposes to reserve a minimum of 33% representation for women in Parliament and in the State Legislatures.

CSR, in partnership with Commonwealth Foundation has been leading the way with multilayered advocacy for the passage of Women’s Reservation Bill

History tells us female leaders approach their job differently and priorities different issues. Mental health, child poverty, healthy homes, minimum wage rises-  have always been among their key focus areas.

A recent  study in India also suggests that female village chiefs invest more in the public good than male chiefs. Research on Panchayats in India discovered  that the number of drinking water projects in areas with women-led councils was 62% higher than those of with men-led councils.

In short, there is established and growing evidence that women’s leadership in political decision-making processes improves them.

Dr. Ranjana Kumari “A leader takes his people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be! CSR team’s tireless efforts in mobilising support for the passage of Women’s Reservation Bill is an example of such leadership style.” 

Campaign for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill

Tirelessly working to mobilise support

The campaign’s primary activities are focused on the dissemination of information about the Bill. Through creation of a Memorandum and fact sheets along with the social media campaign, Women’s Charter and Womanifesto, basic knowledge about the Bill was disseminated.

Press conferences further highlighted the importance of women’s representation to development and highlighted the long-standing struggle to pass the Bill.

Lobbying with Members of Parliament (MPs) / Ministers / Leaders:

Prior to the 2019 General Elections, CSR along with members of the National Alliance met all the major political parties and shared the “Womanifesto” created in collaboration with women’s groups. Our lobbying outreach extended to MPs, Ministers, the Prime Minister and the President at the National level. At the State level, we reached out to MLAs, while at the grassroot level we have reached out to students, SHG women, and the common citizenry.

Mobilisation of women’s groups: CSR along with the National Alliance reached out to over 800 women’s groups at the national, state and grassroots level.

Media Coverage of our advocacy efforts: CSR organised two national level press conferences on the issue, and five state level press conferences. Newspaper coverage of our lobbying efforts have been covered in almost 100 national, state and local level articles and media.

 Petition drive: We have received over 64,000 petitions in support of passage of the WRB from all over India, and continue to receive petitions in support of the Bill.

Mobilization of Panchayati Raj Institutions: The goal of securing the signatures of 100 PRI members in support of the Memorandum to pass the WRB has been achieved.

Mobilizing advocacy efforts at the State level for passage of the Bill: State-level events were conducted in Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Haryana,Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal. These events ensure that lobbying with MLA’s and leaders does not stop at the state level. 

Using the power of social media

We have also been active on social media running campaigns on Facebook as well as Twitter to garner support. To show support, visit our page, Time for #33 percent, on any of the two channels.


Sports to Empower Girls

It is believed that sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose – in short, it teaches you about life.

Out “Sports for Empowering Girls” Program was run in the five Gender-Critical Districts of Haryana in 2019 with support from the Australian High Commission, New Delhi.

The program has given the girls lots more than what we had originally imagined. It has given them life skills – the girls are more confident now and are able to stand up for themselves. What’s more, they have dreams, now and they are willing to work hard to make them a reality.

“I have been playing hockey for the last 5 years. Last year, I got the opportunity to play a Sub-district hockey match organized by CSR. I am looking forward to playing zonal level matches next. My dream is to win a gold medal for India at the Olympics. ”– Priya; Hockey Player from R.P.D.A.V Senior Secondary School, Shahabad, Kurukshetra.

As a result of our efforts, three District Level Volleyball Matches were organized in Gurugram, Jhajjar and Mahendragarh, in addition to local matches in their own areas regularly.

In this project we have utilized sports as a means to empower girls. To enroll ambitious girls like Priya, we did numerous enrollment drives for the past six months. These drives were conducted at both stadiums and schools in these 5 districts.

We have sensitized communities to invest in the physical education of the girls from marginalized backgrounds. And we have also been working with district level authorities to influence them and to build advocacy for our efforts.

 “Sports provide a platform to the girls from various socio-economic backgrounds to represent our country at the National and International level competitions.”
Ms. Jyoti Rani, District Sports and Youth Officer.

Helping Survivors of Violence

Centre for Social Research runs several Crisis Intervention Centres to support victims of violence. Two of our most active centres in Delhi are in Vasant Kunj and Uttam Nagar.

Our centres are approached by women, who are going through significant abuse and struggle in their married life and are seeking redress. On receiving cases of domestic violence and marital discord, we not only counsel the victims but also assist them in the legal procedures for seeking justice.

Number of Cases registered in 2019 at Vasant Kunj and Uttam Nagar were over 100, with around 22 cognitive meeting conducted in different areas. Approximately 500 people were a part of the Community Meetings that were also used for empowering women.

Further the team engaged with gender sensitization trainings and also worked closely with police personnel as well as doctors and medical staff, since they are often the first point of contact for victims of violence.

Many of these survivors have joined us in our centres supporting with our work at grass-root level.