Padma champions ending child marriage
When Padma’s parents arranged for her marriage after SEE (Secondary Education Examination) exam, she fought and rescued herself from it. Being the secretary of Adolescent Girl’s Group, Padma was aware of the consequences of child marriage. She also knew about the support system available in the community to save her from the unwanted early marriage. But, escaping an early marriage is not as easy for other girls of her age so she was determined to prove that it is possible. “I want to continue my education and support young girls and boys to speak up for what is right for them so that the child marriages stop happening,” she says.
When Padma contacted the community mobilizer of Sahayatra-II project, they took the support of Ward Child Rights Committee (WCRC) for counselling and necessary support to her family so that they do not marry Padma off at an early age. During the visit, they identified that the reason behind their decision was the poor economic status of the family. After which the family was supported with goats worth NRs. 15,000 from the project. In addition, the project team continued visiting her family to discuss consequences of early marriage including legal penalties.
Now, Padma studies in grade 11 and is the chairperson of Child Club Network and a child champion for her ward. She participates in the trainings and skill building activities conducted by Sahayatra-II project and is actively working to reduce child marriage and violence against children in Kalikot. The tablet she has received form the project has helped her reach out to many girls with information related to child marriage and violence against children. In the active initiation of Child Club Network and Adolescent Girl’s Group, they have stopped five child marriages in the ward.
Ending child marriage is one of the focus areas of Sahayatra –II project. For this, the project has been working in collaboration with rural/municipalities, WCRC, child clubs, adolescent girls’ groups, traditional healers, and social leaders, Para Social Workers (PSWs), child champions, police, teachers, health workers, civil society networks, and media. The project conducts activities like street drama, door-to-door visit campaign, public hearing, etc. to raise awareness among parents and adolescents on child marriage and its effects. The project has also supported five municipalities to develop a multisectoral strategy to end child marriage.