Ranchi, 12 August 2019: International Youth Day (IYD), observed on August 12, is earmarked by the United Nations to draw attention to the challenges faced by 1.8 billion young people around the world. On IYD, a group of 150 adolescent girls in six aspiring districts of Jharkhand are making their voices heard. They are conducting social audits in Simdega, Saraikela, Dumka, Gumla, Deoghar and Lohardaga to assess impact of adolescent-focused government schemes.
The data generated from these social audits will be analyzed and presented to government officials at district, state and national level, community leaders, peers via open letters, one-on-one meetings, open mic sessions and a bus tour. All these activities are taking place under the phase two of ‘Ab Meri Baari’ (AMB) campaign, an adolescent empowerment movement supported by strategic philanthropy organization Dasra.
Nivedita Natraj, Child Development Project Officer (CDPO), Deoghar district in Jharkhand said, “I am very impressed and excited by the Ab Meri Baari campaign. Adolescent girls have become more aware about their rights due to this campaign. Few girl champions visited me and asked multiple questions about government schemes related to adolescents. I told them that there are several adolescent centric government schemes and they can stay in touch with the local health workers to get the benefits of those schemes along with regular health checkups.”
Girl-led movement for adolescents in Jharkhand
150 adolescent girls under ‘Ab Meri Baari’(AMB) are leading various initiatives to create a nation-wide movement for raising awareness on adolescent priorities such as education, nutrition, health, sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), skilling, safety and creation of agency for empowerment. These girl champions finalized the priorities of adolescents in the state after discussing the key challenges faced by them at a convening in Ranchi last month. Tools like village mapping sheets, social audits and plans for community meetings were created with the help of partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics and researchers. These tools will help generate data and highlight gaps in the current government schemes and strategies for adolescents’ empowerment in Jharkhand.
Equipped with the tools to assess effectiveness of government schemes for adolescents, 150 girl champions from various districts of the state are now meeting multiple government officers, on-ground health workers and community leaders to improve accountability, access and quality of Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS). By end-August, over 200 letters expressing their challenges will be shared with local government authorities, on-ground workers and community leaders. In September, a bus tour travelling through Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi will take the message of Ab Meri Baari to adolescents in respective states.
Kriti Kumari, a girl champion from Simdega district in Jharkhand said,” I feel very energetic since I started participating in activities under Ab Meri Baari campaign. We visited our Block Development Officer (BDO) and discussed adolescent centric government schemes with the officer. The fear of interacting with the government official has disappeared due to Ab Meri Baari.”
Sushant Pathak, Programme Officer, Quest Alliance said, “ Due to Ab Meri Baari girl champions have realized that their voice matters. Adolescent girls in Jharkhand need such platform to bring their voices in the mainstream. The campaign is helping to build their confidence, supporting them in building their agency and ensuring their voices reach to relevant government officers and community leaders. The respect which was given to these girls during social audit made them aware about their importance.”
‘Ab Meri Baari’(AMB) for better health and education outcomes
AMB is a part of 10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborative (DAC), a high-impact platform that unites social organizations, funders, technical experts and the government to empower and positively impact the lives of millions of adolescents in Jharkhand and other disadvantaged areas in India. Dasra Adolescent Collaborative focuses on below health and education related outcomes:
Shailja Mehta, Associate Director, Dasra, said, "In phase 1 of the ‘Ab Meri Baari’ campaign efforts were directed towards enabling the youth population to understand the importance of exercising their democratic duties and agency. In the ongoing phase 2 of the campaign, we aim to provide key elements including data, tools, agency and a support network to empower adolescents in six aspiring districts of Jharkhand and three aspiring districts in Rajasthan. We hope to reach the voices of the adolescents to the right government officials at the district, state and national levels, community leaders and on-ground workers for better delivery of adolescent- focused government schemes and programs.”
Adolescents in Jharkhand face multi-dimensional challenges which limit them from fulfilling their aspirations. National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and Unified District Information on School Education (UDISE) data shows that 38% of women aged 15-24 in Jharkhand were married before 18, as compared to the national average of 27%; and 22% of girls in Jharkhand did not transition from primary to secondary school as compared to 11% of girls nationally.
Studies, surveys and community meetings led by adolescent girls under AMB will provide actionable insights for improving delivery of adolescent-focused government schemes and drive awareness among adolescents on services meant for them. These girl champions in Jharkhand and other aspiring districts of Rajasthan are taking these bold steps to collaborate with key stakeholders to contribute towards their own growth and in turn our nation’s.
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Dasra, meaning ‘enlightened giving’ in Sanskrit, is a pioneering strategic philanthropic organization that aims for a transformed India where a billion thrive with dignity and equity. Since its inception in 1999, Dasra has accelerated social change by driving collaborative action through powerful partnerships among a trust-based network of stakeholders (corporates, foundations, families, non-profits, social businesses, government and media). Over the years, Dasra has engaged with 500 philanthropists, corporates and foundations, published 22 research reports in diverse fields and directed over US$34 Million in strategic funding to the sector.