Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert

by Urmul Trust
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert
Ending Child Marriage in the Thar Desert

Project Report | Apr 20, 2016
103 child marriage free villages and counting

By Anchal Yadav | Programme Manager

Meet our change makers from our youth groups
Meet our change makers from our youth groups

Dear friends,

Thank you again for your continued belief in our work. Your consistent support kept us moving this quarter and gave us more opportunities to change lives of adolescent girls and boys in the Thar desert.

While the society ‘growingly’ acknowledges the risks of child marriage, and, the efforts to stop the practice ‘exponentially’rise –we stay firmly grounded and committed to move towards the milestone we have set for ourselves and the co-travellers –to totally eliminate the child marriage practice from Thar desert.

In the bygone quarter, the challenges and the achievements came hand in hand, both leading to enormous learning. We used different approaches to educate different stakeholders on child marriage and discussed how much it’d mean to an adolescent girl to be able to continue her education and not get married off early. These stakeholders include community, parents, government officials, opinion leaders and so on. As we progress further in the second year of our intervention, we continue approaching the challenge through advocacy, welfare scheme linking, formation of village level watchdog and sensitization committees and also preventive and punitive action with support of local administration.

In the two districts of Bikaner and Jaisalmer in Rajathan–Out of the total 150 villages - communities and local goverance in these 103 villages have committed themselves to the cause and declared –“they’d not allow child marriage in their village”. A team of passionate workers, volunteers, village youth, teachers, village elders all have contributed in this extraordinary achievement.

The summer has set in to the fullest. Temperature will be swinging frequently to 50 C soon, and we shall continue reaching village to hamlets with the conviction of a child marriage free Thar desert. The auspicious day of Akha Teej is coming soon, which literally record hundreds of thousands of weddings in a single day. We are preparing hard to promote community monitoring for any family planning a child marriage, and address the issue.

We have developed a special awareness drive for the Akha Teej, where we plan to organize special folk music performances throughout our programme area. We will have 30 performances in the villages of Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur.

The same folk musicians group will then travel to USA for performances and fund raising for our child marriage campaign. Carol and Andy from Winsconsin are kindly helping us in organising this entire campaign in India and in USA. They are our major supporters in this endeavor to stop child marriage in Thar desert.

We look forward to your thoughts and continued support…

 

Highlights of our work during this quarter:

 

Linking with state funded social security scheme Palanhaar

Under this scheme, the state government provides parentless minor or a child with ‘special abilities’(PWD), a monthly stipend of INR 1000 towards their social and economic security.

We linked 44 minors with this scheme and children now get regular financial support. This has ensured that their guardian will not marry the girls off, in order to release the financial burden. Similarly boys will get opportunity to continue their education. We have linked 119 children from 50 villages with this scheme in this quarter. All of them are continuing their education.

 

Celebration of International Womens Day

We organized International Women’s Day in a big way to celebrate and honour the changemakers in our area. During the programme, three village heads, all women, lead hundreds of participants to pledge for child marriage free villages and commit action towards discrimination free equal opportunity for children. More than 160 people attended the event.

 

Youth groups meetings

In 32 villages, we organized regular meetings with 42 youth groups to follow up on the progress in education and inclusion. We planned on reaching out to more people and in the coming auspicious wedding period - motivate them not to marry off their ward. Child helpline number was shared and we discussed its features. Through this we reached over 650 youngsters.

 

Follow up meetings in the child marriage free villages

Through 35 follow-up meetings, attended by 550 participants, in child marriage free villages, we strategized expanding the campaign by working with various frontline government workers and agencies. All these villages recorded zero child marriage in the last one-year –an achievement made possible with enormous support of the community, youth, government agencies and also the religious leaders in the village.

 

Two-day life skill trainings for girls

Through 15 life skill trainings organized in 15 villages, we worked with 341 adolescent girls on emotional and physical aspects of adolescence. Trainers had in-depth dialogue and teaching exercises with girls between the age of 11-18, on the physical, emotional and mental affects of early marriage. We discussed heatlh, socio-cultural mileu and also the law. The participants were also entrusted with the task to share their learning with other girls in community. Through subsequent surveys, we know that over 50% of the girls are actively sharing their learning with other girls in the community.

 

Workshop with representatives of local governance institutions

Through two workshops, we educated elected-village-representatives on the ‘Child Marriage prohibition Act 2006’, and other state welfare schemes. Participants also reviewed their village’s monthly development plans, monitored the progress and assessed the gaps towards effective course correction. A total of 118 elected representatives participated.


Regular participation in different committees at village level

School Management Committee, Village Level Child Protection Committee, Village Health and Sanitation Committee are some of the forums we regularly participated in, to ensure effective monitoring of health service delivery, education quality, village sanitation and hygiene.

Regular participation in the SMC meetings in 32 villages helped in community review of school functioning. During the meetings we monitor effective teaching, inclusion, hygiene and parents’ participation. Through various committee meetings we reached out to 600+ people (the members of these committees) with the Child marriage messaging as well.

 

Sensitization workshops of religious leaders

Through these sensitization workshops we aim to inspire religious leaders to be change-makers into the discourse. We talk about the legal, social and physical implications on a child of an early marriage; and mobilize their support to dissuade parents planning to marry their minors. This tactic has been working effectively as these opinion leaders are looked up-to and followed by communities.

 

Participation in international forum Difficult Dialogue

In January, we participated in an international forum organized by London School of Economics and Television for the Environment, to share our experiences of working on child marriage issue. The aim was to deliberate on the legal framework, causal factors and implications of early marriage, current policies and programmes and advocacy related to this issue. The dialogue brought to focus the issue, gaps in programming, policies and legal framework and managing these effectively.

 

Two of our young inspirations

 

Manjus mantle

The upper primary school of the Lakhasar village did not have a basic toilet facility, which became the main trigger for the girls to drop out of the school. Manju is one such girl who belongs to the Meghwal community of the Lakhasar village; which essentially does not give much importance to education. So when Manju passed 8th standard, she also dropped out of the school. Once she was out of school, the family started planning her marriage. However, Manju was a bright student and she found it very upsetting when she couldn’t continue her studies. She then decided to meet the Sarpanch, shared her problem and gave a proposal to build a toilet facility in the village school. Gram panchayat members; impressed with Manju’s efforts passed the proposal and even completed the work within 1 month. This gave Manju confidence and she set on to another mission to help the other village girls rejoin school. After this accomplishment, Manju cleared class 9th with 95% marks and her family members realized their daughter’s true potential and regretted their earlier decision.

After Manju’s efforts, 13 girls re-continued their education. And, the Child Marriage custom of Lakhasar village was stopped by the villagers after Manju’s efforts.

  

Geetas Grit

Coming from a marginalized community, Geeta always aspired for higher education and doing good for the society. This seventeen-year-old change-maker from Jethwai village in Jaisalmer area, showed her village how passion could lead to change.

As she reached adolescence, her parents started getting pressured from the community to marry her off, following the tradition. But she denied, and in result, the villagers started demoralizing Geeta to drop out of school. Eventually, her family succumbed to the pressure and she was dropped out of school. Geeta didn’t give up easily. She negotiated hard with her parents to send her to study in a boarding school 70 Kilometers from the village. It was a very hard decision for her mother Leela. But Geeta didn’t just convince her but also motivated her to inspire more families of community to follow alike. Leela, her mother, all inspired, urged many villager to send their daughters but everybody mocked her. Nobody gave ear to her. Geeta followed her passion and alone from her village, joined the boarding school.

The first girl who went out of her village to get education, when Geeta completed her first year in boarding school at Bhadasar,she came back during summer vacation. The change was apparent in everything she did. She didn’t waste her vacation though; she talked about child marriage and promoted equal opportunities for girls to study. This time Geeta was in full command of herself. She urged girls to reject their parent for early marriage. She also met their parent and talked about difference in her life.

Today 35 girls from the same village are studying in the same boarding school, all because of the efforts of Geeta. The same villagers now proudly acknowledge her efforts, happily sharing how she changed the so many lives.

Health awarness march
Health awarness march
Our training with front line workers
Our training with front line workers
A girl-child birth celebration
A girl-child birth celebration
Manju: a rising star
Manju: a rising star
Geeta: another of our change makers
Geeta: another of our change makers
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Jan 20, 2016
Quarterly report October-December

By Anchal Yadav | Programme Manager

Oct 20, 2015
We keep on moving...

By Anshul Ojha | Programe Manager

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Organization Information

Urmul Trust

Location: Bikaner, Rajasthan - India
Website:
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Urmul Trust
Arvind Ojha
Project Leader:
Arvind Ojha
Bikaner , Rajasthan India

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