By Vikas Jha
Sehgal Foundation organized several events to engage communities on International Girl Child Day, October 11, 2022, in villages, schools, gram panchayats, and universities, to give opportunity for girls to have their voices heard in various forums. The girls of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, in the group work shared, “Let the girls dream and allow them to follow the dreams.” These girls summed up the aspirations of millions of girls across the world who face cultural, societal, educational, and employment challenges.
Several village-level events were organized on the day in Maharashtra, Bihar, Telangana, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. In addition, school events, such as painting and poem competitions, were organized for the girls on the theme.
In the seminar organized with the Chanakya National Law University (CNLU), Patna, representatives of eleven NGOs, the UNICEF Child Rights Center, the legal aid cell, and law students shared their work. They affirmed that their institutions are committed to the protection of the rights of the girl child, and that girls should approach them if they are facing any difficulties. Ms. Anshu Kumari, a girl who completed six months digital awareness course in a Sehgal Foundation Center, Samastipur, shared that she can now fill out applications for courses online and help her friends as well.
In the workshop at the Marathwada University, Dr. Chetana Sonkamble, dean of the University, said that her birth was celebrated by her father in the early 1970s, and the community should continue to do the same, which is to create a positive environment for the upbringing of girls in the society. In the event organized at Medchal, Telangana, the SHE team of the Medchal Women Protection Wing (Police Department) briefed the group about the functioning of the women’s protection wing, child rights, and helpline numbers. Deputy CEO Zila Parisad said they are committed to providing equal opportunity for girls. About 600 girls, and 200 men and women were made aware of the government programs and facilities created for their protection.
Before the events on October 11, 2022, a campaign “My Daughter My Pride” was organized by Sehgal Foundation in several villages of Bihar and Maharashtra. In the campaign, community meetings were organized at anganwadi centers and gram panchayat Bhawans. In the meetings, girls between the ages of three and six years, their mothers, school teachers, anganwadi workers, and gram panchayat members participated. The girls were given gifts, and mothers were honored for the birth of a girl child. Subhadra Kumari Village Ratanpura, Samastipur, said that she was honored for the first time for giving birth to a girl child. Kavita Devi of the same village was happy that she has learned about immunization, hygiene, sanitation, and government programs in the meetings. About 800 girl children and their mothers participated in the meetings in the last year.
Engaging communities in the meetings was an endeavor to make them aware of changing their attitudes toward girl children, which will enable better opportunities for girls to fulfill their dreams.
(Vikas is principal lead, Local Participation and Sustainability at S M Sehgal Foundation)