A platform to express your experiences and perspectives is important when you want to create change. If you are from a community that does not have access to rights, resources, and opportunities, this would be difficult. Terre des Hommes Netherlands and its international partners in South Asia is changing this.
Child marriage is a growing issue in South Asia, a region that is composed of eight countries. In response to this, the ‘South Asia Initiative for Ending Violence against Children’ (SAIEVAC) adopted the Regional Action Plan to End Child Marriage. In order to create change, giving a platform to those who were advocating against child marriage and those who experienced it first-hand is an important step to take.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands and SAIEVAC work together to provide equal rights and opportunities to girls and young women, especially for youth advocates. In India, a total of 72 youths (48 advocates from Girl’s Advocacy Alliance programme and 24 early married girls from the IMAGE programme of TdH-NL) participated in the GAA South Asia Learning Workshop held at Hyderabad, India from 16 to 18 November 2020.
During the workshop, the youth advocates actively engaged, shared their experiences, and identified the most pressing issues that need to be included in the action plans to end child marriages.
The young leaders also asked questions to the government and non-government officials that attended the workshop to learn more about their roles and responsibilities and how these officials can fulfill their demands. At the same time, the young changemakers also committed that they will continue their movement till the objectives are achieved in providing equal rights and opportunities to girls and young women.
Dr. Rinchen Chopel, the Director General SAIEVAC, accepted the demands of the youth advocates and promised to include them in the action plans. The other government and non-government actors also expressed their committment to work together to end child marriage and child exploitation.
Involvement of youth in constructive action and giving them a platform brings positive changes in the lives of children. In January 2021, SAIEVAC has already initiated the process to develop the Regional Action Plan for the period of 2010 to 2023 to end child marriage in South Asian countries.
“Supporting a girl for her education not only safeguard her from early marriage but also saving her future...” said Sravanthi, a youth advocate from India.