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Delhi’s Youth Have 19 Answers To How The Govt. Can ‘Put The Last Child First’

In line with the global commitment to leave no one behind while advancing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, and the Government of India’s focus on inclusion and ‘putting the last child first’, Plan India has been actively supporting children’s rights (with a special emphasis on equality for girls), through its campaign – Plan For Every Child (P4EC), launched in 2016.

As part of this year’s efforts, Plan India, in collaboration with its technical partner, Pravah, is organising state-level debatathons, where youth from various parts of the country will discuss gender issues and challenges, ideas for bringing about gender-transformative changes and debates on possible solutions to address the issues. Suggestions and deliberations from these state-level youth debates will be translated into state youth charters, which will be presented at the National P4EC Conference, to be held from November 1 to November 3, 2017, at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, where the winners will come together to debate on the solutions at the grand finale.

The fifth edition of this state-level debatathon was organised in Delhi from October 23 to October 25, 2017, where 23 youth participants in the age group of 18-24 from various colleges and universities engaged in debates to discuss prioritised issues of young girls in vulnerable situations, with a focus on possible solutions. At the end of the debates, the participants put together a ‘state youth charter’ with specific recommendations on quality education and child labour, which was presented to Ramesh Negi, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR).

To ensure that no girl is left behind, the Delhi chapter of the youth charter made the following specific recommendations.

On Addressing Quality Education:

1. Ensure that schools have clean toilets for girls and safe drinking water for everyone. Also ensure provision of free access to sanitary napkins for all girls, specifically from middle school onwards.

2. Include comprehensive sex education in school curricula (middle school onwards) to break social taboos and stigmas.

3. Ensure mandatory parent-teacher meetings once in two months to enhance parent and teacher accountability.

4. Conduct periodic school audits/inspections involving school management committees to prevent girl dropouts. For example, audits can be conducted using the framework of indicators mentioned in Plan India’s Gender Vulnerability Index.

5. Reform school curricula by introducing experiential and skill-based learning processes.

6. Effective implementation of a student-teacher ratio of 1:30, as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act laid down by the government.

7. Ensure that girls have access to trained counsellors in schools and also have a space where they can discuss their issues. Schools should also make counselling outreach services available in their communities.

8. Provide subject-specific remedial support to girl students within schools. Also, take support from community members and NGOs to create informal spaces to offer learning opportunities for dance, music, arts etc.

9. Create safe and informal spaces for strengthening student and teacher relationships.

10. Budget allocation for education should be increased to 6% of GDP.

On Addressing Issues of Child Labor:

1. Build awareness through social media and mass media about the various forms of child labor and the laws against it. Also, involve eminent scholars, individuals and domain experts to host workshops about the issue in schools and universities to build more awareness.

2. Recognise people who report cases of child labor to assist in government monitoring.

3. Develop nuanced guidelines for differentiating between ‘child work’ and ‘child labour’.

4. Provide residential education programmes as rehabilitation for children who have been rescued from child labour, and include vocational training in the curriculum for strengthening possibilities of job opportunities.

5. Address child labor issues in the mandate of the National Service Scheme (NSS) or youth clubs that run in institutions of knowledge.

6. Actively participate and generate awareness on the World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) via youth groups, organisations and schools/universities.

7. Identify high-priority areas for potential child labour and host focussed integrated development programmes (on education, health and livelihood training) for children who are likely to get into child labour in each block.

8. Develop and publicise an app that tracks the progress of children who have been rescued from child labour.

9. Establish and strengthen community-based child protection mechanisms under the arena of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, where village/ward level child protection committees could be formed to eliminate child labour.

Commenting on this initiative, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director Plan India, said, “For nearly four decades, Plan India has provided spaces for youth to continuously engage, inform and govern programmes implemented in their communities. They raise their voice to influence different stakeholders on issues that affect them and the lives of children. This initiative aims to also engage youth outside our programme areas, so that they participate in the larger discourse, raise awareness and advocate for girls’ rights.”

These state-level debatathons will culminate in the National P4EC Conference, which will bring forth the voices of 200 youths from across the country. The conference will focus specifically on girls in marginalised, excluded and vulnerable situations – and will present the interface of inclusion, access and opportunities for girls within marginalised groups.

For more information on the campaign, please visit www.planindia.org.


About the Plan for Every Child – Leave No Girl Behind (P4EC) Campaign

Plan for Every Child – Leave No Girl Behind (P4EC) campaign is a movement to support the 2030 SDGs through children’s rights, with special emphasis on equality for girls. Under the initiative, efforts are made to ensure that the government and the civil society comes together to provide opportunities to scale best practices, design specialised schemes and advocate for gender-transformative changes at all levels, to address all needs for a more equitable world for the girl child (in general), and for girls in difficult circumstances (in particular).

About Plan India

Plan India is a nationally-registered independent child development organisation committed to creating a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable and excluded children, their families and communities. For over 35 years, Plan India and its partners have improved the lives of millions of children by providing them access to protection, basic education, proper healthcare, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.


 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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