31 girls from urban poor communities in Delhi trained by us have made a film "Todo Bandishen", meaning "Break the Chains", representing adverse effects of early & forced marriage on their lives. They are now screening this film to build dialogue with their families and community members to discuss girls' rights, freedom of choice and right to live a life with dignity and good health. Through this film, there has been a notable impact on the campaigners themselves and other community members.
Early marriage kills girls' dreams for education & career, subjecting them to a life of discrimination and domestic violence. It hampers their personal growth, psychological & physical well-being and confidence. Despite laws to prevent early & forced marriage, lack of respect for young women's agency over their own lives and their bodies makes these laws ineffective in eradicating this problem. While girls are raising their voice, the challenge is to sustain this campaign and expand it further.
Fighting collectively and creatively to engage the larger community in a dialogue around girls' issues will bring sustainable change. FAT is supporting girls by training them on issues related to early marriage and skills in photography & filmmaking. The girls have made their film that portrays their narratives creatively and are using it now to engage their families, relatives, community members and larger stakeholders in a conversation around the need to believe and invest in girls' choices.
Each of the 31 campaigners is emerging as a confident change agent within her community and new leaders are joining them. While larger social change takes time, the emergence of these girl leaders has at the least created space for other girls to imagine a better life for themselves, encouraging them to seek change in their present realities. In the long run, we believe that sustained leadership of girls for their own rights would create a wave of change in the entire community's perceptions.