The girls residing in the urban slums and resettlement colonies of Delhi are additionally exposed to the urban poverty and growing inequalities across society. We are promoting gender responsiveness in education, enhancing critical thinking and informed decision making. We are reaching out to out-of-school girls–a substantial number still drop out of school on reaching puberty. Overcoming social norms and fears of gender based violence are some of the major challenges. These girls are often trapped within household tasks, and early marriage. A different future for them may be possible, but a concerted effort will need to be made to fill the gaps and meet the needs for basic education to mainstream them to the senior secondary school. Although an increasing number of girls are accessing schools today, a major key concern is the high dropout rates of girls on reaching puberty. We are creating a girl friendly environment, where boys and girls value and respect each other and thrive through healthy competition as future citizens knowing their rights and responsibility.
Action India promotes education for adolescent girls, and life skills and career counseling to prepare them to step into womanhood. As they become self-confident and become independent emotionally they gain their identity and autonomy. The Scholarship Program has enabled many girls who dropped out from school to continue their studies and avoid pressures of early marriage. They now have the options to make choices with courage to break the social norms which have kept women subjugated to male dominance. The patriarchal hierarchy is facing challenges from these young women some of whom are the first graduates in their family.
Action India initiated Life skills training with peer educator strategy to reach the maximum number of youth. Life skills are behaviours used appropriately and responsibly in the management of personal affairs. They are a set of human skills acquired through training or direct experience that are used to handle problems and questions commonly encountered in daily human life. The subject varies greatly depending on societal norms and community expectations. Life skills are the abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life (WHO, 1993). These include training on gender and sexuality, coping with stress and anger, Decision making and right to choose, Negotiating power equations with family, HIV and AIDS, positive attitude towards relationships, vocational and livelihood training, Health and reproductive rights, Learning to say NO, this has enabled young men and women in our programs to develop greater empathy towards building equal relationships.
The We Can stop violence against women and girls was a nine yearlong South Asian campaign (2004-2012). Initiated in 6 countries, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, it was later extended to 27 countries. Oxfam supported the Campaign in India. This campaign ran in 13 states starting in Delhi in 2006. Action India held the Secretariat with the primary task was to build an alliance with 10 partners to reach out to CHANGEMAKERS across the capital city. A CHANGEMAKER is one who does not accept violence in any form. Beginning with themselves they work to change attitudes and behaviour, abusive language and any form of discrimination they see around them. In this campaign, people were encouraged to raise their voice against all kinds of violence and a person who was ready to bring change at a small level was inspired to take it beyond themselves and their immediate community. The campaign enthused 80,000 people to join together in Delhi and 45000 CHANGEMAKERS retraced in 2010.
The growing incidence of violence and sexual harassment on roads, markets and malls against women and girls needs an adherence now. This campaign in collaboration with Safe City is the beginning of a new partnership.
The most unsafe areas are mapped and frequency of harassment reduced. This leads to women and girls feeling safe and moving around without fear. A non-violent methodology has worked successfully to curb gender based violence in the South Delhi colony Sanjay Camp. We aim to move step by step to all the areas beginning with Bhalaswa in the North-west to mark the unsafe areas and inform the concerned stakeholders and create a violence free safe environment for girls and women.