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Oct 31, 2019

Nandini is inspired to follow her dreams

One of our auditors and active participant in The Access Project in Varanasi shares her story- 

My name is Nandini. In 2014, I was forced into an arranged marriage by my family. At the time, I did not even know the meaning of marriage. My family was  poor family could no longer afford to bring me up. Marriage was seen as the only way out. At that time I was doing my graduation and I really wanted to continue my studies. My in laws were not very happy with this and refused me permission to study. I lobbied hard with both my in laws and my parents and extended finally. They grudgingly agreed and I got admitted in a  masters programme for social work. 

After my studies, I really wanted to work but my in laws were absolutely against this. They wanted me to stop studying and working and stay at home to serve them and my husband- do household chores, take care of them, have children. They were furious with my decision to study and put immense pressure on me to come stay with them. In 2017 I started working in The Access Project with The YP Foundation through my university. This gave me a new insight into work and life. I met a lot of new people and the workshops and trainings I was part of helped me greatly. I was inspired by the thoughts and work of many different people. I felt like I finally had an identity of my own. I decided that I wanted to work in this sector and with women so that others would not have to be in the same position I started talking to my parents and made them understand the concept of what consent meant. My marital family was still not supportive. I was still very unhappy with my marriage and there was constant verbal and mental violence. However, I was selected for  a job with a well known organisation and became independent. I decided to leave my marriage as there was no sense of partnership in the relationship. I do not need to be married to be happy in life and I have come to realise that I am happy with myself and my family and doing what I like, taking my own decisions in life and being independent.

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We would like to thank Nandini for sharing her experience with us and also express our gratitude to our supporters for continuing to pave paths and create enabling environments for changemakers and youth leaders such as Nandini - Thank You!

Oct 31, 2019

Shabana Demands Accountability

“You are accountable to us! You cannot leave today without answering our questions and telling us why government programmes aren’t implemented here”, a spirited Shabana demanded of her elected representative in front of around 200 people in a public meeting she and her friends organised in Sunder Nagri in New Delhi.

Fearless about asking for her rights, 16 year old Shabana  is a far cry from the shy and timid girl of a couple of years ago. She became a part of theYP Foundation’s Butterfly Project working with Dalit and Muslim girls on issues of gender rights, discrimination and early and forced child marriage when she was 13. At that time her mobility was greatly restricted and she was hardly allowed to go out of the house alone. She was not allowed a mobile, while her younger brother had a phone and could go out any time he wanted. Often she had to take his permission to leave the house. 

The Butterfly project enabled her to recognise discrimination and violence, particularly of restrictions on mobility in her own life. She started questioning everything leading to fights at home. Her mother took her out of the sessions because she thought it was spoiling her daughter. However the Butterfly Project helped her with her negotiation skills and this led to her playing a critical role in supporting other girls in the programme whose parents were resistant to them being a part of the Butterfly Project. Eventually, she convinced her parents to send her for a residential training on digital media with other girls. 

Today Shabana is completing her Higher secondary education despite her father having refused her permission to study earlier. She is vocal in objecting to discrimination around her and advocates with public officials asking for better police presence, street lights, public washrooms, health services, response teams to reduce violence and fear among girls. After attending a digital media training by the YP Foundation, she is also the proud owner of her own mobile phone. 

She says, “The Butterfly project helped me understand importance of consent and relationship, difference between sex and gender understood that boys and girls are naturally equal. Initially my friends asked me to not attend sessions as they found the content vulgar and bad, but I know that this kind of information is very important for us and there is no other way to get information on sex, contraception and abortion. My mother sometimes does not allow me to attend sessions but I am negotiating with her some time with love and some time with anger.”  

The YP Foundation is committed to building the leadership of young people like Shabana and support them to ensure better futures for themselves and their communities. This work is possible possible with the support of generous donors like you. Please continue supporting us and talking about our work to others, to help us reach out to larger communities of young people and create rights aware and sensitive leaders of social change. Thank you!

Aug 5, 2019

Bharti Takes Control of her Life

Bharti is a 23 year old woman from Gangapur who has been a part of The Butterfly Project since 2017. This programme works with Dalit and Muslim girls from low income marginalised communities on issues of gender rights, discrimination and early and forced child marriage.

Bharti was married off when she was in the 5th standard, at the young age of 10. When she was in the 10th standard, despite her protests, she was sent off to her husband’s home in another village and they stopped her from studying any further. She was taunted everyday and treated very poorly by her in-laws. She also did not have any support from her husband.  She says she was not aware of any of her rights and assumed this was how things should be. Even though she has a son, she was not aware of her own body and how it worked and believed in many regressive myths about the same. Because of this lack of knowledge she was also not in control of her own body and choices related to her sexual health. 

In 2017, when Bharti started engaging in the Butterfly Project, she learned about her bodily rights and mechanisms, about gender discrimination, advocacy and laws and rights that apply to young women. Bharti left her abusive in-laws and learnt to advocate with government officials and disseminate information on issues of gender violence and rights, puberty, menstruation, livelihoods among many more. Bharti is now working with one of The YP Foundation’s partner organisations and has been involved in their work in ending child marriage, stopping gender discrimination and teaching young girls about their bodies and helping them with issues of puberty, contraception, safe sex etc. She is also working on attitude change towards adolescent girls and perspective building of the community to support their girls in their dreams and aspirations.

Your support has been instrumental in helping turn Bharti’s life around! Her and many like her are building their own lives and are happy because of this support!

 
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