Madhuri, Pushpa, Lavanya and Manoranjini, four energetic young leaders of Girls Advocacy Alliance from Ongole City, India pledged to raise awareness on the empowerment of girl children. They promised themselves to implement the National Girl Child Day´s theme of “Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow” in true spirit in their district.
They worked out their plan of action by raising awareness and reaching out to various people in the community who can contribute to their part in safeguarding girl children by empowering them. These people were their peers in schools and colleges, people in communities, religious leaders, police officers and public transport owners such as auto drivers in the city to share their message.
They also designed specific messages for specific target audiences. For girls and young women, the message was to say no to marriage before the legal age. For religious leaders, they targeted getting commitment from them not to solemnize child marriages.
In their short journey, these four young leaders reached out to more than 300 girls in schools, 250 in colleges, 25 religious leaders in the district, and 120 auto drivers in their city. Additionally, they reached out to the officers in the local police station for requesting them to take stringent action against people who organise child marriages.
Though the action seems a small step towards raising awareness, it holds a lot of potential in changing behavior of the masses which makes this action special and scalable. Also, this action is meant for all categories of people in society and also intends to address the issue of gender-based violence.
These types of actions and awareness raising initiatives help educate more people and hopefully result in sensitization of the ill consequences of child marriages in India. Through local partner organizations such as Rural Action In Development Society (RAIDS), Terre des Hommes Netherlands´ Girl´s Advocacy Alliance programme aims to encourage various young leaders and people in their communities to identify, monitor, and report incidents of child marriages.
The Girls Advocacy Alliance is committed to fighting violence against girls and young women and increasing their economic participation in developing countries. Violence and economic exclusion are closely linked. Particularly due to child marriages, sexual violence, trafficking in women, and the worst forms of child labour, girls are dropping out en masse in secondary and vocational education. Their chances of ever getting a 'decent' job are minimal. And vice versa; without income and independence, they are more vulnerable to violence.