Women-led app initiative tackling gender-based violence

Key information

  • Organisation: Vasvya Mahila Mandali (VMM)
  • Country: India
  • Region: Asia and the Pacific
  • Stage of innovation: Stage 3: Pilot
  • Start date: 2021
  • End date: 2022
  • Type of innovation: Service delivery innovation: new or different way of providing a service
  • Funder: HCL Foundation

Summary of intervention

Women in South Asia experience high levels of violence within relationships and there are strong links between gender-based violence and mental health.

In response, Vasvya Mahila Mandali (VMM) joined forces with Vijayawada City Police to launch the Mahila Mitra initiative. This is empowering women by creating awareness and networking to prevent, detect and resolve violence against them. Vijayawada City Police have joined the community, educational institutions, and women’s self-help groups, empowering not only women, but men who are supporting them in their cause.

There are ‘Mahila Mitra Committees’ at all 21 Police Stations in Vijayawada, comprising of 134 members. Each Committee has mobilised Support Groups, with a total membership of 8120 women volunteers. Support Group members are trained in counselling, law, gender-based violence, cybercrime, safety, risk management and self-defence. This network provides a safety net for women in distress and is bringing significant transformation in the attitude and mind-set of the Vijayawada City Police, sensitising them to the violence that women face, and how they should respond. Members use a mobile app to report cases.

Every police station now has female constables. The project also identifies unsafe places for women and brings these to the attention of the police. Committee members visit schools, colleges, workplaces and women’s community groups to speak about women’s rights and laws that can protect women.

The project also identifies so-called ‘eve teasers’ and, rather than punishing them, counsels them along with their family members, which is having a very positive impact and reducing reoffending. 7432 perpetrators have been counseled by police and VMM in addition to support provided to survivors.


Initially, VMM planned to have only a text-to-type based app. However, as many of the Mahila Mitra members’ literacy levels were low so they were unable to properly report through the app, even though they were actively working for the community. VMM have now modified the app to include a voice-to-text function.

next steps

At present the app is working well, but it will need periodical updates to keep up-to-date with new services and to generate reports which can be easily understandable to the users.


The app is very useful for the Mahila Mitra members to use, and VMM wants to link the app to the police department for sustainability.