Dec 2, 2019

The Power of One!

Hi there,

Sipping your morning cup of tea, take a minute and think back to your younger years — was there someone in your life who encouraged you to take on challenges? Did you have a place where you can gather with friends and openly speak your mind or get information? Did you have someone to look up to for career guidance? Your answer to one of these questions may be “yes”, but unfortunately many young people are not so privileged, especially girls in India.  

Today, We are experiencing a youth surge with the number of adolescents and young people at an all-time high. Globally 600 million adolescent girls stand at the crossroads between childhood and adulthood. 

Importantly, the largest population of adolescent girls live in India, most of these girls live in underserved communities. As they stand at these crossroads, so do communities at large – the crossroads between losing out on the potential of a generation or nurturing them to transform society. 

In 2015, we met 14-year-old Khushboo who lives in a conservative low-income community in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The picture for girls in Khushboo’s community is even bleaker, they are questioned on their simple choice to wear a pair of jeans or even when they look out of the window. Most of them have no hopes or dreams. 

Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for 20% of India’s adolescent girls’ population. Even today, 39% of adolescent girls aged 15-18 are not attending any educational institution, and a vast majority, around 65%, are "either engaged in household activities, are dependents, or, are engaged in begging, etc". While the problem is severe, it’s not insurmountable!

Amidst these heartbreaking statistics, there are girls like Khushboo who, instead of lamenting their faith, are fighting to make a difference and changing many lives in return.

Meet Girl Icon Khushboo who has been trained to lead as a grassroots girl leader through the Girl Icon program. With the 2-years of focused training, Khushboo has successfully changed the trajectory of her life as well as for children in her community with the power of education. 

Khushboos’ initiative of raising awareness on the importance of education in her community through street plays and skits has brought back 20 children to school.

She believesEducation is the most powerful weapon one can use to change the world.”

When we invest in adolescent girls, we invest in a demographic dividend that will benefit them, their communities and the country for decades to come.

Your support is contributing towards creating change for girls in some of the most marginalized communities. Your donation is helping them complete their secondary education, improving adolescent health, and ending child marriage, gender discrimination, and violence.


Sep 4, 2019

Creating 21 Days of Magic!

Dear Champions,

Guess what happened when we trained 216 GIRL LEADERS and 38 GRASSROOTS WOMEN in 2 states in 21 days? We created MAGIC and occasional chaos!

The girl leaders we call Girl Icons are part of the Girl Icon program. They come to the journey for 2 years as Fellows who are trained to advocate for their rights as girls. The residential Girl Icon Leadership Development training took place in three batches in Uttar Pradesh and Assam from 17 June 2019 to 8 July 2019.

The training focused on building their awareness, knowledge and skills around Adolescent Health, Violence and Risk Taking Behaviour, Building Relationships, My Values, Leadership, Team Building and planning and organizing Social Action projects.

Session on Adolescent Health created awareness on bodily changes during adolescence, body image and nutrition. The girls delved into Menstruation and Sexual & Reproductive Health. The session built knowledge of the biological process of menstruation and debunking demystifying myths and taboos that surround this topic. It also covered the importance of hygiene and good practices during periods.

In Building Relationships session, the girls examined and mapped the good and bad relationships in their lives and how to maintain relationships. The session on Leadership helped the girls identify the traits of a good leader and also reinforced the expectations from them as Girl Icons and a girl leader in the community.

The session on Violence and Risk-taking Behaviour established why adolescence is a time of vulnerability, the dangers of peer pressure & substance abuse and discussed both physical and emotional violence. The session on My Values demonstrated the link between our values and our behaviour / decisions, followed by the importance of values for a leader.

Interspersed throughout the trainings were Mulakat sessions which focuses on providing knowledge, and inspiring and motivating girls to take charge through interactions with notable personalities. This encourages sharing of experiences and learning between guests and girls. Dr. Manoj Shukla, general Manager of Rashtriya Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), Monika Yadav (DSP, Uttar Pradesh Police), Prof. Mudra Singh (Amity Law School, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh), Anita* acid victim survivor from Sheroes Café in Lucknow, UP shared their inspiring stories to encourage the girls.

The Girl Icons also orgainzed Mehfils where they performed cultural programs highlighting a wide spectrum of social issues through plays, skits, street plays, songs, dances and poems. 

The 38 grassroots women whom we call Sahyogis attended the knowledge sessions with the Girl Icons. Capacity building sessions were conducted for them to equip them with information and skills to work with adolescent girls in their communities.

The Girl Icons have big plans for themselves. They will be organizing one social action project each in their communities. So this year, we will have more than 200 social action projects implemented across 15 districts in the 2 states! 

A big thank you to all!

Milaan Team

Social Action Project plan presentation
Social Action Project plan presentation
Girls discuss their peer meetings
Girls discuss their peer meetings
Jun 12, 2019

17 year old stops child marriage in rural India

Girl Icon residential leadership training 2019
Girl Icon residential leadership training 2019

Dear Friend, 

In India, more than 13 million girls under 19 years of age are married. This accounts for 3.8 per cent of total married women in India. Study says that girls married too young who are incapable to even give a legally valid consent are more helpless to violence and sexual abuse. At Milaan, we invest in building knowledge and skills of adolescent girls to end Child marriage, gender-based violence and discrimination etc through the Girl Icon Program to accelerate the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal No 5 to achieve gender equality by 2030 and build a movement of Girl Leaders called Girl Icons. 

One of the Girl Icons Shiksha* has been recently selected along with 200 other adolescent girls from low-income communities in the Girl Icon program from Uttar Pradesh for a 2-year long leadership development journey. The state, Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for 21 per cent of India's female adolescent population.

She lives in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. She is an optimistic 14-year-old studying in grade 9th. Her father is a farmer and mother a house maker, she also has an elder sister, 20 years old pursuing her Bachelor's. The family together lives in a small room.

Growing up Shiksha* used to aspire to be a policewoman but now she seeks to be a teacher and work within the community and teach the children. She shares happily 'my parents don't ask us to do any household work which gives me ample time to study.' Her sister will soon be married off and will start a new family. Shiksha* has a very special bond with her father and is much close to him than her mother. Her mother often places a lot of restrictions on her but her father continues to motivate her. She joined the Girl Icon Program to foster young girls towards education and encourage a more progressive attitude in her community members towards education especially of the girl child. 

Shiksha* shares 'the girls in my community are very friendly and soon after the first leadership residential training I was able to form a peer group of 20 Girls'.  After she conducted her first peer meeting in the community, she was approached by a mother of two girls in her community who were being forced into child marriage by their father. The mother is separated and her daughters were not allowed to live with her, helpless with the situation the mother informed Shiksha* to take action. Along with her peer group, all the 21 girls together decided to stop the child marriage and went to their house. Even after a persuasive dialogue, the father was not convinced to stop the marriage. Shiksha then decided to seek help from the police by dialling the police helpline 100. The intervention was a success. The girls have now returned to their mother and live with her. One of the girls has also joined Shiksha's* peer group and along with everyone advocates for girls' rights. 

Adolescent girls like Girl Icon Shiksha* are able to stand up, raise their voice and take charge of their lives and the communities they come from. They are actively advocating for their rights and building knowledge of other adolescent girls through your continued support. 

 *Name changed.

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