Priyanka is conducting a session on “creating awareness about the child marriage and its perils among a group of adolescent girls”. They listen with great interest and attention to what Priyanka is saying. They want to brainstorm on how to save their friend, “Sonia Kumari [name changed]” from child marriage. Sonia was proposed by a well-off family, hence her family are in the preparation for her marriage ceremony. Sonia is a 15-year-old girl studying in the 10th standard. Sonia wants to pursue her education, minimum till the 12th standard before getting married.

Priyanka decided to approach Sonia’s family. It was the first bold step taken by her to stop child marriage other than raising awareness about its ill effects.

“If you are ready to give Sonia one more opportunity to study further she can attempt for various job opportunities. More she gets educated and trained more she will be empowered. Thus, you can make sure better proposal than the present!” Priyanka cleared.

Somehow, her parents accepted Sonia’s interest; and Sonia is back in school now.

Priyanka,22, a resident of Pochra village in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand, is presently a teacher.

“Right now I work as a social activist and educator for an adolescent programme run by Srijan Foundation. We conduct sessions and inform adolescent girls and their parents the pitfalls of early marriages. Furthermore, we, as a group, have successfully stopped few child marriage cases in our village” says proud Priyanka.

In her early adulthood, she was a simple village girl of shy nature. Now, she is actively involved in many initiatives for the social enhancement in the lives of the adolescent girls.

In 2013, Srijan Foundation started to work for the empowerment of adolescent by organizing the young and adolescent through group-based interventions. The community mobilizers of the Srijan Foundation formed different adolescent groups in different parts of the state. They raise awareness about menstruation, physical changes, early marriage, domestic violence, witch-hunting, gender equality and rights etc. through this initiative. Furthermore, regular meetings, training, peer learning exercises, exposure to service delivery system, interface with service providers, linkage building with skill development initiatives, financial institutions, sensitization towards gender issues and other social issues build a healthier and inclusive platform for women and children. The present adolescent empowerment programme plays a vital role in creating safe spaces, enabling the environment for the adolescent and young in the mainstream. It also helps to make people understand the need and importance of child-friendly approaches towards girl’s education, training and other development measures.

“Education plays a vital role in our life. We do not have to be dependent on others and no one can point-out the loopholes of a girl after getting jobs.” Priyanka says proudly.

The adolescents are empathetic in order to thrive in an interactive world. They need empathy-based ethics because policies and laws can’t always facilitate change. Now, an individual’s skill is no more confined to four walls. They should view everyone as a leader and is not required to obey orders. They should come up with innovations and be a change maker. The adolescents should be encouraged to step out of their shoes and experience new things, which will help them to make their own decisions and therefore empowered.

Written by – Tanaya Nag & Edited by – Mujeebu Rahman