October 11, observed every year as the International Day of the Girl Child, is a significant occasion to focus on the urgent challenges faced by young girls across the world, including access to education and healthcare, and issues such as sexual exploitation, child marriage and trafficking. We organized a webinar to mark the occasion and to put the spotlight on adolescent girl leaders from across the country who are working during the COVID-19 pandemic to address school closures, child marriage and trafficking in their communities. Titled ‘Amplifying Voices of Young Girls’, the webinar had Annie Namala, Executive Director, Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion, as the chief speaker. Seven adolescent girls from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal joined the webinar as speakers.
These young speakers talked about how the school closures have led to girls permanently dropping out of school and increased sexual harassment. One of the adolescent girl leaders hailing from a nomadic tribe in Rajasthan spoke of how she works on raising awareness on child marriage along with her father through puppet shows. The girls spoke about how years of progress have been undone due to the pandemic. The government needs to urgently address the challenges faced by girls and women, they said. During the webinar, a strong need was also expressed for constant campaigns on gender issues, including a campaign on sharing domestic work.
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