CREA was formed by are Geetanjali Misra and Pramada Menon, development professionals who had been working in the diverse fields of reproductive health, sexuality, violence against women, media, and women’s rights in India for more than fifteen years. Their own experience coupled with discussions and consultations with experts, donors and other experienced people in the field established the need to form an organisation focused on developing the leadership capacities of young women in addressing issues of sexuality and reproductive health and rights, violence against women, and social justice.
They recognized the importance of developing innovative ways of addressing issues of gender discrimination, social injustices against particular groups and communities, peace and conflict, imbalance of power relations in societies, and the lack of access to information and services for poor and marginalized people.
CREA was registered in April 2000 in New Delhi, where it is headquartered and in U.S.A. in 2001, with the long-term vision to create a strong south- based organisation that works at local, regional, and international levels.
CREA recognises the potential of the human rights framework as a tool for social change. While there have been victories and some changes in the status of women, the continuing subordination of women, makes it critical that there exist adequate interventions that address women’s human rights and enable them to articulate, access and demand these rights.
CREA has grown significantly in size and scale over the past years. Apart from the changing external environment, CREA’s evolution has been informed by its experiences, learnings as well as reflections on and persistent questioning of its positioning, approaches and methodologies. In the initial years, CREA focused more on evaluation and impact assessment approach through collecting stories of change, collecting feedback from participants at the Institutes (trainings) and learned to incorporate the feedback in its future programmes.
CREA made its first big effort in terms of evaluating its programme and strategies in 2007-2008 when it underwent a restructuring. CREA also commissioned periodic external evaluations of its programmes. The 2008 reviews of the Community Based Leadership Program and of the Sexuality and Rights Institute found that CREA had built leadership capacities and enhanced understanding on sexuality, gender and rights of grassroots organisations and activists and that the Institute had made an impact in shifting perceptions and attitudes towards sexuality, gender and rights among people working in development, rights, and health in India.
In 2009, CREA began the work to chart out the initial steps for a clear and strong M&E system for the organisation. On completing 10 years, in 2011, CREA commissioned a meta-review of its work undertaken over the past 10 years. Findings of this review are published entitles, Dancing on the Edge. Based on the recommendations of this review, CREA developed its strategic plan 2012-2015 and refined its theory of change, developped the programmatic offerings, and re-aligned of its staffing and organisational structure to build teams that could function both independently and in tandem with each other.. It also put in the process of updating the strategic plan and sharing with Board members for CREA India and NY annually. CREA expanded its focus on resource development, communications, and M&E. CREA streamlined its advocacy work and put in processes to make it more focused.
In 2011, CREA also began to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation Outcome Mapping Framework document. This was presented and disseminated at the 12th AWID International Forum, organised by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) from 19–22 April 2012 in Istanbul.
In early 2012 CREA refined its vision and mission statements, and clearly articulated its theory of change for the first time. In addition, CREA defined four organizational outcomes to guide its work, and defined the shifts required to meet these outcomes.
In April 2015, CREA along with the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) organized a three-day convening of partners and colleagues (Documenting and Learning from Experiences of Comprehensive Sexuality Education) to share experiences in implementing and evaluating in- and out-of-school comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programs. The convening was a forum for discussing strategies to monitor, evaluate and document CSE programs for the dual purposes of strengthening programs and conducting evidence-based advocacy. A focus of the convening was how to generate credible, rigorous evidence of the impact of CSE using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Experts in monitoring and evaluation introduced a variety of methodologies based on qualitative and quantitative data collection and study design, which offer many advantages for evaluating CSE work.
Between 2012-2015, CREA focused its work on strengthening feminist leadership, interface between sexuality and rights, gender and health, SRHR of adolescent girls in India, work with disabled people, expanded influence on policies affecting women’s human rights and SRHR through advocacy at the HRC, participating in key coalitions in India, acting as the Secretariat for the India review ahead of ICPD+20, monitoring the implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in India, and conducting trainings in India on DOVA (the Human Rights Assessment Instrument on Domestic Violence). to address the paucity of resources for Hindi-speaking activists and organisations, by translating peer-reviewed journals into Hindi, and publishing a ground-breaking research study on violence against marginalized women in South Asia, and developing other resources and guides.
CREA has regularly trained activists to build their capacities to work with UNHRC processes and to work on Universal Periodic Review Reports and thereby bringing voice of local activists at the global level. CREA is also being increasing seen as a technical expert by many regional and international oragnisations.
After the first Online Disability and Sexuality Institute and feedback of its participants and also based on recommendations, CREA strengthened the Online Platform by making it more accessible to participants with disabilities. Based on feedback of participants of FLMBRaI (East Africa and South Asia) CREA has streamlined and strengthened the course to make it more context specific. Newer resource people have taught in the CREA’s FLMBRaIs. We have also had Alumnis do sessions on their experiences based on their learning from the Institutes. CREA’s SGRIs also have had some new resource persons coming in to teach.
As CREA completed its 15 years, it seemed an appropriate time to take stock of the current and plan for the future. CREA felt the organisation structures, talent management practices, processes, systems and norms of behaviour/culture have developed along the way as a response to growth and not always consciously as a structured approach to the mission and long term goals. CREA felt it was the right time to evaluate the efficacy and relevance of many of these. CREA also felt that organizational processes around decision making, performance management, strategic planning, and cross functional collaboration needed to be strengthened. CREA has engaged Bullzi as the Organisational Development Consultants. The process began with identifying all that was working and those that needed to be worked on. CREA’s purpose and values as an organisation were articulated, which included, A 10 year SMART goal, Key strategic initiatives, organisational structure and A holistic talent management process. The approach was to include the entire organisation to strengthen the ‘connect’ and the ownership of the shared goals.