Collectivizing Girls for Social Change

AJWS-supported research in India suggests that collectivizing is among the most promising methods for supporting girls to confront the social norms and discrimination that limit their decisions about their own lives and bodies. “Collectivizing” refers to regularly bringing together members of marginalized groups in ways that enable them to identify mechanisms of oppression and strategize for both individual and social change.

A recent evaluation of AJWS’s strategy to reduce child, early and forced marriage and unions (CEFMU) and advance gender equality in India showed that girls who participate in collectives first build confidence and exercise greater pow­er in their personal lives, then begin influencing others in their families and communities—sparking social change. Eventually, girls work together to demand political change— drawing on their growing collective power to shape new laws, policies or services.

AJWS supports research that showcases:

  • The rationale for collectivizing, with a focus on how gender inequality—including control of girls’ choices and sexuality—fuels global problems like CEFMU
  • Strategies that collectives use to engage girls and build their abilities to influence their families and societies
  • Evidence of the varied impact of collectives, from the individual girl to the broader community