#GirlsMatter – Young Girls Leading The Way For Their Rights In India

From supporting girl’s education and empowerment, learning and teaching menstrual hygiene to combating violence and discrimination, these young changemakers are working in communities across India and on the ground, to come up with solutions and change mindsets towards the girl child in India.

This Girl Child Day, we celebrate the young and dynamic youth advocates, fighting for the rights of girls and paving the way for a more equal work.

1.SALEHA KHAN

Living in the slums of Govandi, a suburban neighbourhood in eastern Mumbai, Saleha Khan is a compelling example for girls in her community. Dropping out of class 10th due to financial constraints didn’t stop her. She found support from an NGO, ‘Save the Children’ and completed her education, determined to bring about a change in society.

Meanwhile, she began educating parents on the perils of pulling their daughters out of school. She also conducted sessions that spread awareness about menstruation and the taboos associated with it, as the people in her community weren’t aware of menstrual hygiene. Currently, she is an advocate for children’s rights, health and nutrition, and sanitation and has conducted more than 250 sessions on menstrual hygiene and other water and sanitation-related issues over the last 3 years.

Saleha is now an inspiration to many girls in her community, girls who are now taking brave strides to follow her footsteps. She is also the recipient of the Savitribai Phule Award for her contribution to various community welfare activities.

2.JHULIMA MALLICK

A tribal girl from Bandudi village of Kandhamal district in Odisha, Jhulima Mallick is the winner of THE United Nation’s V-Awards. When she was in class 10, she had to drop out of school due to financial constraints. Right after, her family planned on getting her married, but she resisted and joined an NGO and campaigned against early marriage. She also re-enrolled herself in school and continued her education. She also inspired other girls in her village to continue with their education.

Rewarded for her contribution to end child marriage and promote education among girls in her area, she represented Odisha by being selected among 10 winners from across the country to fight for this cause. Her achievement was also applauded by the Chief Minister of Odisha, Mr. Naveen Patnaik.

3.PRIYASWARA BHARTI

Priyaswara Bharti is a child rights advocate from Bihar. She’s been working for girl child rights, adolescents, youth and to end gender inequality and make films for bringing change in society with her main moto #Film4SocialChange.

She is also the founder of Bihar Youth For Child Rights and is currently leading a group of children and promoting child rights through several activities under this initiative. Being a child, she would actively participate in several workshops conducted by local and national non-government organizations, but her stint started while she was in the fifth standard when she attended a workshop conducted by UNICEF in association with the Bihar Government.

Priyaswara has 20 documentaries to her name. Her movie, Gelotology—a science of laughter, won the Jury Special Mention Award at the 9th National Science Film Festival, and ‘The unknown city: my own flooded city, a film on the 2019 Patna floods was recognized in several film festivals too.

4.KIRAN BAURI

On India’s National Day of the Girl Child, Kiran Bauri with 500,000 other girls and women poured onto the streets in Purulia District of West Bengal in India and joined hands to form a 348 km long human chain. The chain started at the centre of the town and extended beyond as more and more young women joined supporting girl education and ending child marriages at an early age.

Since her childhood, Kiran grew up seeing many young girls getting married at an early age and dropping out of school and vowed that she would contribute to change this. She is an active member of the Kanyashree Club (local adolescent club), set up jointly by the Purulia District Administration and UNICEF, as part of their Adolescent Empowerment Programme. She has also been given a title of ‘Pad Girl’ as she has been vocal about the usage of pads, educating people about sanitary hygiene.

5.ANJU VERMA

Anju is a young activist from Daulatpur village in Haryana, a State with a skewed sex ratio, which encapsulates its regressive attitude towards girls. She has been using education as a tool to improve social mobility for underprivileged children. She rescued 46 children employed illegally and ensured they were enrolled back to school. She founded an organisation, ‘Buland Udaan’, that has enrolled over 700 students in schools, prevented 40 child marriages, and intervened in 15 sexual-harassment cases.

Now, Anju is a successful social activist, and a TEDx speaker educating people about the injustice done against the girl child and is motivating girls to speak up against the injustice in their communities, in order to fight for equal rights for all.

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