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'Ab Meri Baari' girl champions interact with front line health workers, community leaders, government representatives, NGOs and other adolescents for collective effort in Jharkhand
RANCHI, India, Sept. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, over 60 girl champions presented a charter of ten bold recommendations to government representatives, front line health workers, community leaders, non-governmental organizations, and peers, as a part of Dasra's 'Ab Meri Baari' initiative. The girl champions raised important gaps and asked for improved access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), education, safety and nutrition to prevent teenage pregnancies, discontinuation of education, early marriage and a higher vulnerability to domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Below is the charter of 10 bold recommendations prepared by the girl champions:
Make Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics available for us at each block, with clear information on the services provided
Help us understand methods of contraception, counselling services and other medicines available in Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics
Inform us about non-communicable and communicable diseases like RTI, STI, AIDS from Community Health Centres
Our schools need an increase in the number of teachers for the number of students enrolled
Deliver timely study materials to us, with extracurricular activities till at least 8th standard in government schools
We must have clean and safe facilities for boys and girls in Government Schools
Ensure sanitary pads are always available in our Aanganwadi Centres
Have more open conversations with us, across all levels, around combating child marriage
Empower us with information on Protection of Childern from Sexual Offense and Juvenile Justice Act for our safety
Give us a role in shaping the Village Level Child Protection Committee (VLCPC)
While appreciating girl champions, Nitin Kulkarni, Secretary of Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Jharkhand said, "The information and data which has come out of Ab Meri Baari initiative is a learning for us. This information reflects true picture at village level which is important for us. We will try that the gaps identified by the girl champions are filled and immediate action is taken on the same. On the basis of the feedback given by you, we will try to change the outlines of our programs and make the necessary additions if required."
Dr Shailesh Kumar Chaurasia, MD, NHM, Jharkhand said , "I highly appreciate this effort by girl champions of Ab Meri Baari. This has helped us to understand how different government schemes are getting delivered to citizens and what experiences people have at a village-level."
Kumari Kruti, a girl champion from Simdega, said, "While conducting interviews for the scorecards, we got the opportunity to interact with government officials and front line health workers who ensure the delivery of adolescent focused programs and schemes. It allowed us to understand their point of view and provide them recommendations for improvement of service delivery through collective action."
Kumari Shempo, a girl champion from Deoghar, said, "Prior to the scorecard exercise, I've never had the opportunity to engage with the Child Development Project Officer (C.D.P.O.). Through the scorecard, I could discuss and voice my challenges. I gained extensive details on all my questions and had an engaging conversation related to health and nutrition."
The recommendations from the girl champions come at a crucial time as the government representatives recognize the high rates of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in Jharkhand as a cause for concern. National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data shows that 17.8% of adolescent girls in Jharkhand got married before the legal age, higher than the national average of 11.9%. Young mothers and girls who are married before 18 are at a high risk of violence, deprivation, malnutrition and death related to childbirth. The children born to young mothers also have lower chances of survival.
Amit Ghosh, Program Manager, Child in Need Institute (CINI) , said, "The challenges faced by Jharkhand's adolescents cut across many social issues. The social audit data obtained from 63 villages highlight a need for schools, primary health care centers, local governing bodies and communities to be well equipped for improvement in Sexual and Reproductive Health rights (SRHR). This can be made possible by creating collaborations across government departments, NGOs and experts."
Byomkesh Lall, Senior Program Manager, Centre for Catalyzing Change (C3) , said, "In Jharkhand, there is a tradition of women being active participants in their own empowerment. The 'Ab Meri Baari' girl champions are staying true to this tradition and are excellent role models within the community."
The first stop in the bus tour was Gumla where the girl champions interacted with local Zilla Parishad Head, and over 100 participants including community leaders, adolescents and non-governmental organizations. From here, the bus travelled to Simdega where girl champions met with local dignitaries including Pramod Sinha, Civil Surgeon, Pushpa Kullu, member of Simdega Nagar Parishad among others. On Tuesday, the bus reached Ranchi for the final stop in Jharkhand, before leaving for Uttar Pradesh.
The recommendations in the charter are based on the scorecards and resource mapping of adolescent-focused schemes and services such as Rakshtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in 63 villages of Jharkhand's Simdega, Saraikela, Dumka, Gumla, Deoghar and Lohardaga districts. Total 63 social audits were gathered and collated in August and September 2019. The data and recommendations presented by girls are based on a small sample size and are subjective based on perceptions of girl champions and community stakeholders.
These 60 girl champions will further train 300 other girl champions based on the skills learned by them under the 'Ab Meri Baari' campaign. These skills include assessing government services, engaging with different stakeholders, interviewing for scorecards, public speaking, analysing data and presenting recommendations to their local administration, and working on implementing these recommendations in partnership with relevant people.
Highlights of the scorecard findings
Qualitative analysis of girls-led scorecards revealed areas of improvement in the delivery of social programs which can have direct implications in improving key development indicators related to health, nutrition and gender equality in Jharkhand
Sexual Rights Health Rights and health
• 37 out of 63 villages verbally provide information about non-communicable and communicable diseases like Respiratory tract infection (RTI), sexually transmitted disease (STD), AIDS at Primary Health Centre/Sub-Health Centre on services provided.
• Only four out of 63 villages have proactive Adolescents Friendly Health Clinics (AFHCs), 12 villages do not have services of AFHC, 19 villages have services but these are not accessible by all, 28 villages have adequate access to AFHCs.
• Information about sexual and reproductive health and hygiene is not displayed in three villages. It is displayed in 23 villages but not explained verbally, it is displayed and explained in five AFHCs. Five villages provide information proactively through camps and campaigns.
• Only 29 Villages have access to study material along with good quality free books, 12 villages have access but with poor quality, 11 have irregular access and 11 do not have access to the service
Sanitation and Menstrual Hygiene Management
• In 35 villages, basic service provision of sanitary pads is unavailable at an AFHC. In 17 villages, the service is available but not accessible for all. In two villages, it is available but not of quality. Only in nine villages, sanitary napkins of good quality are available and accessible by all at the AFHC.
• Only 25 out of 63 village schools have separate toilets for boys and girls which are of good quality and accessible for all. Separate toilets are unavailable in 15 villages. In 10 villages, the service is not accessible for all, and in 13 villages, it is accessible but not of good quality
• In 47 villages, information about child marriage, early pregnancy and associated risks is shared verbally by Aanganwadi Centre. In 3 Villages, such information is displayed and in 10 villages, no awareness is provided. Only in 3 villages, the information is proactively shared and explained through campaigns on a regular basis.
• In 19 villages, information is verbally shared by Community Health Centre/Block Hospital for The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act in the Centre/Hospital . In 1 Village information about POCSO and JJ Act is displayed in school and in 2 villages, through campaigns at school. However, a significant 41 villages do not have any form of awareness.
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About Ab Meri Baari
Started in March 2019, the Ab Meri Baari campaign is an effort to bring adolescent issues to the forefront and drive conversations around their sexual and reproductive health, safety, education, nutrition - factors that contribute to their holistic growth and well-being. The Ab Meri Baari campaign will grow towards a nationwide initiative to build awareness on adolescent priorities.
In the first phase, the campaign activities focus in Jharkhand and Rajasthan. The campaign activities are primarily executed by 60+ girl champions with the support of non-governmental organization that include Aravali, Centre for Catalyzing Change, Child in Need Institute, Dasra, Magic Bus, Praxis, Quest Alliance among others. These girl champions were trained to assess government services in their respective villages, engage with their peers, communities and service providers, conduct social audits, prepare recommendations and work with their local administrations to take these forward collaboratively.
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. For more information, please visit: https://www.dasra.org/. PWR