|In order to prevent the girl child marriages, exclusive activities were designed for the adolescent girls aiming at imparting information about consequences of child marriage and changing their mind set. Also information on variety of topics were given to them as well as skill trainings, sports, library, sessions on health, hobby classes were run for them. To gain support and greater participation of women in the said project; some exclusive activities were also designed for them. Enhancing knowledge, empowering the adolescent girls and building in their confidence were the three elements of the project. Project for the adolescent girls is the foundation program of women empowerment.|
- Formation of adolescent girls groups – In selected all 30 villages under the project; groups of adolescent girls (12 to 18yrs) were formed. Each group had 30-40 members. Group formation process was initiated through organization of different activities for the adolescent girls in the village. Gradually the adolescent girls started associating with the activities and groups were formed. Lectures, sports, skill development sessions, hobby classes, painting, drawing, slide shows, films, exposure visits to nearby government setups were the activities planned at the initial stage. Village level coordinators played a major role in gathering the girls and forming groups. The exclusive features of the group were monthly meeting of adolescent girls, skill development activities, health education and personality development sessions.
Apart from these regular activities, need based & issue based and skill based activities were organized for each group. During the monthly meetings of adolescent girls with the village level coordinators different activities were planned. In the initial stage of group formation; some meetings were also conducted with the mothers to involve them in the project and also to reduce any kind of resistance and opposition to the project as issues like sex education are still the topics to be kept silent on were on the agenda of the program. Girl child marriage being issue of concern the role of mothers was crucial at the same time very convincing. Apart from mothers of these adolescent girls; some meetings and activities were also planned for other women in the villages of all age groups aiming at advocating the subject.
- Awareness program (slogans) – subsequent to the survey and a few activities with adolescent girls, slogans (187) talking about ill-effects of girl child marriage, gender equality, importance of education, health of girl child, importance of healthy recreation for children etc were displayed around all the public places which could be seen easily by everyone. The spots chosen for the writing of slogans were the public places, schools, PHC, bus stand, market place, temples, shops etc. There was a good discussion all over the places in all sects of people and a very good opportunity was created to talk about girl child marriage as a very conducive environment was built in.
- Multi-colored pictorial Calendar – A very attractive & eye-catching calendar was produced to explain the project on ‘prevention girl child marriage’, the calendar was circulated to all the adolescent girls who were enrolled in the project also to the local schools, village PHC, Bank, post office, police station, gram panchayat and to some professionals and philanthropic people who supported the project in some exclusive manner. It was used as one of the tools to reach out to people and target group with the project purpose, methodology and impact. Multi-colored pictorial calendar was successful in reaching out to the people and compelling them to give a thought to preventing of girl child marriages.
- Village level awareness programs (Puppet show & film shows) – in order to introduce the project to all the village dwellers and to procure participation of all stake holders; village level awareness programs were organized in all selected 30 villages under the project. Total of 30 village awareness programs were organized.
The higher level of participation of all stake holders and target group was the result of this activity. To make the subject easy to perceive and to create awareness regarding adolescent girl child marriages and its ill-effects, film shows & puppet shows were organized.
- Organization of Gram Sabha – every individual who is 18yrs and above is the member of gram sabha, it is the village general body and can exercise its rights for village development in majority. In order to make the project a ‘village project’ and announce it before the members of village; gram sabha’s were organized in all the selected villages. The gram sabha’s gave an opportunity to all the members of the villages to understand the program and resulted in good support from all the sects of the village. Girl child marriage being a critical and a complex issue participation of gram sabha added an authentic foundation to the project.
- Association and coordination with local schools – A very cordial association was build & maintained with the local schools during the project period. The aim was to ensure that the girls are main streamed in formal academic schools, re-admitting the girls who had left schools because of different reasons and admitting every girl child in school at an appropriate age. Schools also assisted in identifying the potential strength that can be dropped out or on the verge of dropping from schools. To keep check and ensure that all girls are in formal schools, the schools played a very major role. Different meetings were organized with the schools, parents of children enrolled in schools and students in the school. In all possible ways and to all; the importance of education was told periodically. In order to make the school environment more interesting & learning more joyful; some inputs were given to teachers to make teaching-learning process more joyful & easily perceivable by the children. Results of these efforts were that the schools also kept a close watch on enrolment of students and played a vital role in ensuring their presence in schools.
- Village level meetings of women – there were variety of issues which were common to all women of all age groups and so some exclusive meetings were arranged at the village level. Building in women’s solidarity was one of the key concerns to gear up the project. The average attendance in the meetings was 40-45 women.
Health, hygiene, different laws for women, department of police, recreation, SHG, safe drinking water, viral infections, reproductive health, AIDS, different kinds of cancer, sexual problems, infanticide & its consequences were the topics on local resource persons updated the women folk. Slide shows, LCD presentations, film shows, posters, books, models were used for making the topic easily perceivable by the participating group.
Majorly girl child marriage was the topic discussed during all the meeting. Averagely 59 meetings in each village were organized. Impact of these meetings was; higher level of participation of women in the project was seen. Number of their difficulties, problems related to health could be addressed and some degree of change in their mind set could be brought in them. More over they were the strong supporters for preventing girl child marriages as most of them were the victims. Exclusive 30 meetings were organized for the women folk.
- Involvement of Adolescent Boys in the Program –Exclusive groups of adolescent boys were formed in order to gear up the campaign of prevention of girl child marriages. Corner meetings, group meetings, different sessions, workshops, creative activities, sports, study classes etc were organized for them. The impact of all these activities resulted in good solidarity and rapport building amongst them. Some activities were also executed for them in order to build in the rapport.
The response of this particular group was very sociable and without any doubts they opposed the custom of girl child marriage. Being in regular touch with the adolescent boys; resulted in their higher level of participation in the project.
Gradually ill effects of girl child marriages on adolescent girls, families and the society were explained to them. The product of these sessions was good understanding of the subject amongst the adolescent boys. In all 30 villages the groups of adolescent boys were formed and are active. Altogether each village had averagely 5 meetings with the adolescent boys.
- Skill trainings – The project included skill training sessions on different topics aiming at imparting skills to the adolescent girls and building in their confidence.
Each group was exposed to number of skill training sessions like making paper bags, artificial jewellery, sticking, computer operating, embroidery work etc. The skill trainings were conducted by local resource person at the village level. Participation of adolescent girls in the skill training sessions was active and resulted in good participation in the program.
Special motivation & assistance program – it was noticed that formal schooling was a mere dream for numbers of adolescent girls as they were living in utter poverty. All the little earnings; which came in to the family were consumed in satisfying the basic needs of the family. In order to ensure the presence of these adolescent girls in mainstream formal academic education and to encourage them to continue with schooling. The result of this activity was, good number of adolescent girls could continue their education. Some financial provisions were made for this activity in the budget. Altogether —- adolescent girls received assistance under this activity during the project duration.
- Cultural programs – to give the adolescent girls an opportunity to display their skills in dancing, singing, poem reciting and acting and majorly to give them a platform to bottle out their feelings, emotions and passions; cultural programs were organized at different intervals during the project period. Also it assisted in maintaining the interest of adolescent girls in the project.
Annual cultural programs were organized at each village. The women folk were also invited during the cultural programs. This was one of the highly admired activities by the participants. During these programs the adolescent girls got an opportunity to communicate without restraint with the village coordinators and spoke out their hearts & minds which assisted the organization in understanding the needs of these girls and plan some exclusive interventions.
- Workshops – It was noticed that village level activities enhanced the confidence and information amongst the adolescent girls after some duration of the project as they were exposed to lot of things which made them self-assured. With an intension to gather all the adolescent girls enrolled in the project and to provide them an opportunity to share their feelings, program and all the changes occurring in them in course of the project on one dais;, workshops were organized in 14 village considering the proximity and easy reach for the adolescent girls.
Each workshop enrolled 40-50 girls. Altogether 9 workshops were organized during the project period. Some competitions, refreshments, sports, singing of songs & lectures by eminent personalities were the key features of the workshops. Key topic discussed in the said workshops was prevention of girl child marriages and its ill effects. To make the topic more perceivable for the adolescent girl’s simple language, use of participatory methods and different tool were used. The impact of the workshops was good understanding about the topic was gained by the girls and a process of solidarity building was initiated amongst them.
- Workshop on personality development – After participating in workshop with limited adolescent girls from limited villages, there was a demand of one exclusive workshop where all the adolescent girls wanted to participate and share their concerns. Accordingly a unique workshop was organized on 27th May 2012 in which around 700 adolescent girls from 30 villages participated. Along with different aspects of personality development the participants were given brief information on ill effects of girl child marriage and importance of education. Good number of participants shared their concerns & experiences. Number of them pledged that they will oppose girl child marriages publically and took an oath of completing their education. This particular workshop was the peak point of the project as number of stakeholders witnessed the wish & will of the adolescent girls to complete their education and not getting into marriage before it.
- Rally on prevention of girl child marriage – On 27th May,2012, rally was organized on the issue of girl child marriage in which more than 700 adolescent girls and more than 200 women participated. Also the intention of organizing; the rally was to create public awareness and make the common people understand the issue of girl child marriage and its consequences on the girls, families and the society on whole. Also there was an appeal made by the adolescent girls to stop girl child marriages. The rally started from IIT college ground and passed over all the roads of Ahmedpur. Adolescent girls had made banners, poster for the rally and also said some slogans and sang songs depicting the ill effects of girl child marriage. This was one of the most significant events organized during the execution of the said project. The response of the society was very positive and the gravity of the issue reached to all the sects of the society.
- Coordination & meetings with schools and village gram panchayats – schools & the village level gram panchayats were the key stake holders considered in this project as they are ones who very firstly notice the absence of the adolescent girl from village. All marriages needs to be recorded in gram panchayat is the statutory duty of the village panchayat and the schools need to maintain record of all children admitted in school till they complete their education. Also both the organizations can play a vital role when it comes to prevention of girl child marriage. Therefore on different occasions meetings with the village level panchayats & schools were organized and the co ordination with them was strengthened. Annually 4 & 6 meetings were organized with village panchayat & local schools respectively.
- Library for adolescent girls groups – It is said that a person learns and gains information through reading and to update the information of the adolescent girls enrolled in the project; library activity was initiated for each group. Books on general knowledge, science, fictions, cooking, different skills, stories, mythology, autobiographies etc were purchased and 30 sets were made. Each set had exclusive collection of books. Altogether 900 books were incorporated in the library sets. After very month the set was exchanged in rotation which offered an opportunity to the adolescent girls to read many books during the project period. Appropriate care of the books was taken by the groups and also record of transactions was maintained at group level. The habit reading was inculcated amongst the adolescent girls through this activity. The impact of this activity was that the adolescents demanded for circulation of daily newspaper at home.
- Kitchen gardening – As there is a very close relation between health & nutrition; the groups of adolescent girls, were given training and seeds of different varieties of vegetables to overcome the problem of malnutrition; especially amongst adolescent girls. Altogether 560 adolescent girls participated in the activity of kitchen garden.
They were encouraged to carry out the activity in their own premises and were taught the techniques of making utility of waste water through drip using plastic bottles and earthen pots for watering the plants. As the girls came from agriculture based families and so the activity was laughed at but as the adolescent girls started harvesting variety of vegetables at a very low investment and understanding the concept of dignity of labor, sufficient for the family of 5-6 people changed the outlook of the families and society as whole.
Around 10-12 variety of seeds (Ladies finger, cucumber, tomatoes, spinach, chillies, beans, corriender, methi, bettle gourd, sweet gourd) were distributed. Approximately each family received 2 to 2.5 kg vegetable per day. The significant impact of the said activity was reduction in malnutrition amongst the adolescent girls and the HB amongst the adolescent girls was noticed to be increased during the annual health check-up camp. One of the NGO’s based in Pune furnished the seeds for the said activity. The said activity was execute during all the project years and gradually included women from shg’s too.
- Health education sessions for adolescent girls and women – Health is one of the most neglected aspects identified amongst the adolescent girls & women. The Magnitude of its affects on their life is many times severe & harsh. Appropriate and timely information dissemination can save the women & adolescent girls from severe health hazards. Topics ranging from personal hygiene to reproductive health to human anatomy were explained through using different methods and techniques.
Local resource persons, experts in area of women health, medical practitioner’s etc delivered useful & scientific information to women & adolescent girls during the sessions. The impacts of such sessions were observed in day to day health practices amongst the women & adolescent girls. Altogether 30 numbers of health sessions were organized under the project. The participation of women & adolescent girls was active and very reciprocal in nature. Averagely 30-35 adolescent girls & 20 -25 women participated in the said sessions.
- Involving Young men in the Program;
The 50% of population i.e. male population was also included in the project as male population cannot be excluded when the issue of female population is on agenda. The sole aim of including the male population was to procure their support in preventing the girl child marriages and to bring a change in their male dominating mindset. In the initial stage the support and participation of male members was very limited and restricted as they required time to realize the issue and the ill consequence of the issue.
Earlier meetings with youth and elderly men in the 30 villages were focussed on village level issues like scarcity of water, agriculture credit, market, roads, etc but gradually the issues related to girl child marriages were taken on agenda. Ill effects of girl child marriages on social level, psychological level, on health, education, decision making etc were discussed with the male population. Periodic meetings were organized with them to keep them in touch with the issue.
They were given the sense that if they participate in this project, accomplishing the objective of the project can be much easier. Different age wise groups were formed to make the information perceivable to the male groups. Averagely 30 to 35 young men participated in meetings organized for them.
- Youth Campaign for Village Development;
National Council of Rural Institute, Hyderabad had proposed a theme “Youth Campaign for Village Development”; based on this theme the organization had organized “Youth Festival” during 2nd to 19th October 2009.
This campaign included 10 villages from Ahmedpur block (Mangdori, Valsangi, Ruddha, Mogha, Wavanti, Rui/Warvanti Tanda, Hippalgaon) and from Chakur block Borgaon. Lectures, workshops & sessions (gender equality, health, addictions, career opportunity, organic farming and competitive exams) on different subjects were organized by subject experts and dignitaries. Also some competitions (easy writing, debate on importance of education to women/girls, personality development, gender bias & its ill effects on society, importance of sex education) were organized for youth.
Youth festivals organized under the ‘village youth campaign for village development’ created a very lively atmosphere in all the project villages. It was noticed that the youth have the potentials & capacities and require access to information and opportunities to learn different skills. The participating female youth group distinctly resented the girl child marriage and spoke about eradicating mal-nutrition amongst the rural adolescent girls & women. Countless girls expressed their anguish with regard to lack of facilities of higher education. Almost all the youth members showed keen interest in village development process.