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Concerns of Vulnerable Children presented at National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances

New Delhi, 22 November 2016: A consolidated report on the situation of vulnerable and excluded children from India comprising 28 states and four union territories was presented at the National Conference on 'Plan For Every Child' for Children in Difficult Circumstances. Representatives from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, various state agencies, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations participated in the discussion.

Child labour and trafficking have emerged as the key problems faced by the majority of vulnerable children across India in the state and regional consultations. Street and working children are also a key concern reported by 80% states (26 states out of 32). 75% (24 states out of 32) reported missing and trafficked children as a third major concern. 19 states across 3 regions (North, South and West regions) reported the issue of child marriage as a major concern. All states in East and Northeast India reported on issues of Children Affected by AIDS while all Northeastern states reported the issue of Substance abuse.

The findings are the result of consultations held over three months with over 2,000 civil society organisations including government departments working with children living in difficult circumstances. The consultations were conducted in 28 states and four Union Territories with participation of 1,500 representatives and five regional consultations with participation of 500 representatives from national and regional NGOs, the UN agencies, government institutions, national and global networks and coalitions, corporates, media, academicians, legal professionals, children, youth and communities.

Children in Difficult Circumstances are those living on the streets and working, those affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. Plan India through its innovative programmes would ensure that all related endeavors promote access to rights, equity and justice as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Government of India's National Plan of Action for children 2016 which is committed to "putting the last child first".

The NGOs will form a larger Network of Civil Society Organizations to take forward research, programmes and initiatives on children in difficult circumstances. The consortium will strengthen grass root level networks with Gram Panchayats and district level governance structures and collaborate with the Government to develop child sensitive data on all key issues.

Along with the release of the CIDC report, the consortium adopted the "India Declaration on Children in Difficult Circumstances" that secured a 15-year commitment from all partners to help improve the lives of vulnerable children. To ensure sustainability, a CIDC Network will be set up by Child rights and development NGOs. Plan India would reach two million vulnerable and excluded children through direct interventions by 2020.

Speaking on the occasion, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, "Millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security because of their circumstances. The 'Plan for Every Child' initiative will provide unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers to address the numerous problems faced by children and reinforce commitments through practices, programmes, policies and investment."

As per current statistics, 23 million children below the age of six years are malnourished (ICDS Status Report), 19 million children are living and working on urban streets of India (UNHCHR Report) and 4.3 million children remain still employed as child labourers (2011 Census of India).

The 'Plan for Every Child' was organized by Plan India with support from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. Distinguished delegates included Leena Nair, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Yasmeen Muhamad Shariff, UN Working Group Member, Stuti Kacker, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Government of India, Govind Nihalani, Chair Emeritus, Plan India Board, Rathi Vinay Jha, Chairperson, Plan India, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, Surina Narula, Patron, Plan India and over 200 representatives from NGOs across India.

The conference also reviewed the existing best practices, effectiveness of government policies, legislation and programmes in addressing the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable children. The participants discussed multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights to children and sought potential solutions to these problems.

Participants acknowledged that promoting knowledge management and collaborative processes, including research are important drivers in influencing policies, practices and investment to improve the lives of CIDC.

Dr. Yasmeen Muhamad Shariff, UN Working Group Member said, "Special programmes and project interventions are needed for children who face multiple deprivation and vulnerabilities owing to their circumstances. The available resource is not adequate to bring out transformational change and ensure holistic development, protection and care that can strengthen families and communities of children in difficult circumstances."

At the conference, an art exhibition was held displaying art work by 150 children from five regions (Imphal, Bharatpur, Pune, Rachi and Vijayawada) depicting their views on issues affecting children in difficult circumstances was inaugurated by Govind Nihalani, Eminent Film Director, Chair Emeritus, Plan India Board.

All state and regional consultation, in their recommendations, urged government and civil societies to place more emphasis on training of all functionaries on basic child rights acts/schemes and their implementation for children in difficult circumstances. The laws surrounding children in difficult circumstances should be amended in order to ensure uniformity in age along with life-skill education in all schools, specifically on how children can protect themselves from abuse, neglect, exploitation and harassment. Further, there is need to strengthen local governance, ensure child protection, set up legal aid clinics in rural areas, as well as drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres. Recommendations also included a centralised adoption system and specialised counsellors to support children subjected to sexual assault. The labour department must work together with educational and social welfare departments to promote child welfare in all aspects.

Plan India and Samsung Heavy Industries launch 'Swachta se Shikha ki Aur' project

Plan India, in partnership with Samsung Heavy Industries, launched the 'Swachta se Shiksha ki Aur' project in Primary Schools of East Delhi Municipal Corporation. The project will benefit over 400 children under the school improvement programme and will have the key components of providing water and sanitation facilities, along with educational facilities.

Anil Baliyan, Deputy Director, East Delhi Municipal Corporation, along with employees from Samsung Heavy Industries from India and Korea, school teachers, School Management Committee members, students and community members inaugurated the project. The employees of Plan India, Samsung and school children volunteered for a day to develop a play space in the school premise as well.

The key component of the project is to create a child friendly, stimulating and inclusive infrastructure in school and strengthen capacities of the teachers and school administrators to promote quality education and hygiene practices among children.

The project will jointly be implemented by the government school and will be managed by the School Management Committee once it is handed over. Some of the essential activities are to develop hygienic habits among children in the school, install and promote safe and clean drinking water facilities with solar power for uninterrupted water supply in the school, age appropriate drinking water points and hand-washing points for easy access to young children and most importantly separate toilets for boys and girls. The school will also be equipped with a digitally equipped resource centre to inculcate the habit of reading among the children and to enhance their understanding on using internet as a search tool. All this will be undertaken through a structured curriculum on school wash and education. The project also aims to train school teachers on computer aided learning technique for promoting accelerated learning among the children.

BIAAG Top Line Findings Report: Identification of missing girl critical to SDG 5

New Delhi, October 14, 2016: To achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 of the United Nations, which is to 'Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls', India will require the inclusion of 'missing girls', change of social-cultural behavior and political action - leadership, commitment and accountability. Plan India's Because I am a Girl (BIAAG) 2016 findings, which will be used to track progress of SDG 5, is the latest call to action.

The key findings of the report has also identified two other pertinent issues jeopardizing the prospect of gender equality in India namely, safety and security of young girls and strong cultural compulsion and inclination towards son preference.

This BIAAG 2016 report is an initiative of baseline study of adolescent girls in the country and data has been collected from various sources such as Government agencies, International Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations working for adolescent girls rights and women empowerment. Each year, through the life span of SDG, i.e., until 2030, the report will track overall progress of adolescent girls based on the missionary goals of SDGs, especially related to reduction of poverty and hunger, assurance of good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, partnership and network for development, etc.

The findings are a part of a 3-year collaboration between the European Union (EU) and Plan India a leading child rights development organisation working for promoting gender equality and combating discrimination against girls, which began in May 2015 in selected districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. The EU currently funds 3 large initiatives on the rights of girls in India, with a specific focus on eliminating sex-selective abortions.

The Child Sex Ratio (CSR) is alarming in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and in these states and there is significant need to address gender discrimination. Compared with the national data, birth registration percentage is at a lower side in all the above states.

As per Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, "The aim of the study is to assess performance of India on SDGs and especially for SDGs relevant to gender discrimination. It will explore whether India has taken decisive steps to fulfil SDGs relevant to gender discrimination specifically to tackle female foeticide."

"Governments will be in a better position to formulate policies facing millions of girls if vital data about them is made available. The forthcoming report basis this baseline study will push to the forefront the need for making girls and their realities visible. This is the very first step towards girl empowerment," she added.

Key findings also reveal sex ratio at birth is fluctuating. Several reasons can be attributed to the phenomenon namely; neglect of girls, selective female abortion, female infanticide.

Besides highlighting the gaps, the key findings of the study highlights pathways to address the issues through innovative programmes for fulfilling rights of every girl in order to 'make the invisible visible'. Key action points to be undertaken as per the study report include stricter implementation of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act through well-defined planning, strategy and monitoring mechanisms at district level, greater awareness of various government schemes, laws, programmes meant for welfare of the girls, active participation of civil society organisations and academia in the policy making process of the government, effective implementation of various programmes in league with NGOs as partners in development and lastly establish joint monitoring mechanisms between government and non-government agencies at different echelon of administration.

The issue of 'Missing girls' has been a key concern for India along with the rest of the world. This includes the number of girls lost due to the practice of female foeticide, female infanticide as well as those who fall prey to girl trafficking. During 2001-2012, the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Maharashtra together accounted for more than 70% (3.3 lakh out of 4.56 lakh) of the missing girls at birth annually in India. Even during the second half of the period (2007-2012), the share of missing girls from these four states continued to be high at nearly 85% of the all India total (2.75 lakh out of 3.29 lakh) Punjab and Haryana saw the highest proportion of female births that did not take place annually out of the total female births; acute 17% for Punjab and 13.4% for Haryana during the first half of the period. However, these two states saw an improvement in the trend during second half.

The 2001-2012 period witnessed a substantial number of girls missing at birth each year, with the figure peaking to an estimated 7 lakhs in year 2004. Estimates for the year 2012 are encouraging, lower than the average of 3.3 lakhs for 2007-12 and well below the average for entire period 2001-12 (4.56 lakhs). The unavailability of women for marriage in certain regions due to skewed sex ratio has triggered the need to get/buy women from other regions.

The BIAAG 2016 baseline report findings were presented at a national level workshop involving members from the government, academicians and NGOs. Participants included Dr. J P Kapoor, Director, Family Welfare, Government of India, Dr. Johann Hesse, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to India; Uday Warunjikar, Senior Advocate, Mumbai High Court, Dr.Vemuri Muralidhar, Retired Professor,Centre for the Study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, JNU, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India and Ms. Usha Rai, Development Journalist from New Delhi.

Plan India has been implementing programme on education, early childhood care, youth employment, household economy and income generation programme that ensure girls and women are being protected within their own community and they enjoy freedom from exploitation, abuse, violence both within and outside of their home. Through continuous and constructing efforts Plan India envisions to create an environment where girls and women feel safe and engage in meaningful occupation for sustainable development.

Girls' takeover traffic signals to mark International Day of the Girl

New Delhi, October 10, 2016 - To commemorate International Day of the Girl on October 11, a UN-declared international observance day to support greater opportunities for girls and end gender discrimination, teenage girls from marginalised communities stepped into the roles of traffic policemen and manned traffic in New Delhi.

The celebration of the International Day of Girl Child is part of a 3 year collaboration between the European Union (EU) and Plan India for promoting gender equality and combating discrimination against girls, which began in May 2015 in selected districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. The EU currently funds 3 large initiatives on the rights of the girl child in India, with a specific focus on eliminating sex-selective abortions.

European Union Ambassador to India, Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski inaugurated the takeover and distributed badges to the girls belonging to marginalised communities.

120 girls manned traffic for two hours at multiple locations in Delhi, namely Rajpath, Mandi House, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Windsor Circle. They were assisted by traffic police personnel, most of who were women. Dressed in pink t-shirts, the young girls displayed signage and posters on gender equality as well as girls' rights. Passerby were also handed stickers with the message "Be a Driver of Change".

Inaugurating the initiative, Mr. Kozlowski said, "Ensuring that girls feel respected and valued in society is the first step to breaking down the barriers of discrimination. Today, on International Day of the Girl, we remember that empowering girls and women is not just our moral duty, it is also the solution to many of the greatest challenges we face in the quest for development and peace: Investing in girls is investing in peace and prosperity".

On the occasion, Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, "Despite significant progress over the last several decades toward girls' and women's equal participation, gaps still remain. By occupying such spaces and places where they are rarely seen or heard, it is a step towards promoting gender inequality and claiming their rights."

Besides manning traffic, girls also took over important roles even in corporate houses, media publications and radio stations for a day, last week to commemorate International Day of the Girl. Going forward, 10 metro stations in Delhi will also have signage and people will be requested to pledge their support for a safer Delhi, from October 11-20. The metro stations include Rajiv Chowk, Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Uttam Nagar East, Janak Puri West, Anand Vihar, Vishwavidyalaya and Shahdara.

The International Day of the Girl was celebrated in more than 50 countries of the world where girls were undertaking historic "takeovers" becoming presidents, mayors, senior directors, school principals, editor of a newspaper and radio presenters for a day to raise their voice for justice and equality.

Delhi girls to become leaders, traffic police, editors, radio presenters and more for a day

New Delhi, 5th October 2016 To commemorate International Day of the Girl on October 11, a UN-declared international observance day to support greater opportunities for girls and end gender discrimination, girls will step into the roles of influential leaders and change-makers across the world in a series of takeovers. From India to Canada, girls will stage over 200 historic "takeovers" in more than 50 countries as they become Presidents, Mayors, Senior Directors and TV presenters for a day to raise their voice for justice and equality. By occupying spaces and places where they are rarely seen or heard, girls will draw attention to gender inequality and claim their rights.

In India, girls in the age group of 13-25 years from marginalised communities will perform various roles like managing traffic, editing a newspaper, taking over as RJ, as village sarpanchs, school principals and as a senior manager in the corporate sector.

In Delhi, Yasmin a 20 year old undergraduate student will take over the role of a senior manager of a global pharmaceutical company, Daiichi Sankyo, for one day.

Shatabdi, a 15 year old girl from Delhi is representing India in Spain's celebration of International Day of the Girl where she will hold discussions with political representatives at the National Parliament, Spanish Youth Committee and with school children to promote equality for girls worldwide. She will also be participating in a takeover of the Madrid City Hall, Spanish Cinema Institute, Justice Court, Radio Station and Plan International Office for one day.

Sixteen year old Ruby who will take over as radio jockey for Radio Mirchi, 23 year old Sunita will take over as an editor of a national newspaper and 100 girls will manage traffic at 4 major locations in Delhi.

In addition to these, 10 metro stations in Delhi will have signage and people will be requested to pledge their support for a safe Delhi. The metro stations include Rajiv Chowk, New Delhi, Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Uttam Nagar East, Janak Puri West, Anand Vihar, Vishwavidyalaya and Shahdara.

"Young people have a fundamental right and plenty of innovative ideas to be valuable and contributing members in decision-making. The more that we work with governments, in corporate environments and in development, the faster we will make change happen," said 20-year-old Yasmin, from Delhi, who took over Daiichi Sankyo.

Girls from other parts of India will also play key roles in order to raise awareness on gender related issues. 13 year old Bhavani will become ACP and take over a police station in Hyderabad, 14 year old Shivangi will act as a Sashastra Seema Bal Assistant Commandant at the Indo-Nepal Border in Sonauli, while 10 girls will act as Sarpanchs of villages and the headmistress of schools located in the Maharajganj district of Uttar Pradesh for a day.

The global action is being staged as part of Plan International's "Because I am a Girl" campaign which advocates for all girls to have power and freedom to learn, lead, decide and thrive.

"Securing girls rights is a critical social justice issue of our time. It is our responsibility to create an environment that will enable every girl to fulfil her dreams. Through the takeovers and by occupying spaces and places where they are rarely seen or heard, girls will seek to highlight the challenges they face and represent their power and determination to build a more equal world that values girls, promotes their rights and ends injustice," said Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India.

Apart from India, girls' takeover events are being done across the world. This includes taking over the role as Director General of UN Office in Geneva, President of Nepal, Mayor of Dublin, Minister of Status of Women in Canada, Headmaster of a school in China and Japan, Minister of Human Rights in Pakistan, Vice President of Talent and Development of Robi Axiata Ltd. in Bangladesh, Minister of Education in Egypt, Deputy Commissioner of Department of Police in Zimbabwe, take over a position in MSNBC and Nickelodeon in USA, Vice Minister of Education in Timor Leste, Minister of Manpower and Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection in Indonesia, President of the National Assembly, to name a few.

Achieving gender equality is one of the Global Goals that were agreed by world leaders in 2015 and which promises to transform the world by 2030.This is the fifth International Day of the Girl and Plan International stands up for equality and works together to create opportunities for girls to engage in spaces where they are traditionally not seen or heard to illustrate every girl's right to equal opportunities.

Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya project kicks off across 60 schools

Visakhapatnam, October 5, 2016: Plan India, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. launched today the Urban WASH - Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya project across 60 schools in Visakhapatnam, Pune and Dehradun. The project will directly impact over 12,000 children by enabling access to potable water and sanitary conditions and promote good sanitation practices along with effective use and ownership of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure.

Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Commissioner Mr. M. Hari Narayanan and Visakhapatnam District Collector Mr. Praveen Kumar inaugurated the project in the presence of Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India; Ms. Shubha Sekhar, Director CSR and Sustainability, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia Business Unit; Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India and Mr. Mohammed Asif, Director Programme Implementation, Plan India. Others present at the event included M. Venkata Krishna Reddy, Visakhapatnam District Education Officer, Baddi Raamu, Chief Functionary, Grama Swarajya Samithi, school children, teachers, school authorities and other partners.

Under the three-year project, Coca-Cola India will provide sanitation facilities such as toilets, sinks, urinals and other physical structures necessary for creating sanitary conditions. USAID and Plan India will support the project through behaviour change communications aimed at educating youth about the benefits of sanitation. By spreading this message, the students will serve as change agents within their communities and around their schools. The project will work closely with the School Education Department, Municipal Corporation and District Administration at all stages, starting with selection and approvals to work in the schools.

Speaking on the occasion, USAID Mission Director Addleton remarked, "Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has identified the provision of clean water and sanitation as his top priority. USAID supports this priority by providing technical expertise and sharing best practices that translate into positive change not only for these children and their schools, but also for their families and communities. The launch of the School WASH program today reinforces our shared goal of improving services for India's low-income urban populations. The specific target is to advance the Government of India's goal of improvement in the general quality of life of people by promoting cleanliness and hygiene and making India free from open-defection by October 2, 2019. With the right mix of technology, innovation and partnerships, we believe we can transform India into a country where clean water and sanitation is no longer a privilege, but a basic right affordable to all."

Over 17 million urban households lack adequate sanitation facilities in India and 14.7 million of these lack toilets. The absence of basic sanitation facilities in schools is a key factor in students dropping out, particularly teenage girls.

Commenting on the partnership, Shubha Sekhar, Director CSR and Sustainability, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, "At Coca-Cola India, we are committed towards building holistic, happy and healthy society. Making positive interventions at schools is the bedrock of that commitment. Support My School initiative has impacted 200,000 school children across 700 plus schools in India so far and this initiative will help us further the cause by reaching out to an additional 12,000 children. We feel proud to partner with such an initiative which will significantly improve infrastructure in schools in these three cities and give conducive environment to school children."

"It is important that our children are afforded basic necessities so they can focus on their education," said Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India. "One of the widely recognized reasons for children dropping out of schools is the lack of basic, age-appropriate, gender-and disability-friendly sanitation facilities, clean drinking water and a healthy school environment. This project will ensure improved access to water, hygiene and sanitation by providing separate toilets facilities for girls and boys," she added.

The project will help school children, teachers, School Management Committees (SMC), functionaries and communities ensure quality WASH practices within their schools. It will also address gender issues with the strong participation of girls in various project activities, such as menstrual hygiene management and advocating for proper facilities in school. This work contributes to the Government of India's Swachh Bharat Mission by creating models that can be replicated by the municipal corporation school WASH improvement programme.

Concerns of Vulnerable Children Presented at Western States Conference

Pune, 29th September 2016 - A consolidated report on the situation of vulnerable and excluded children from Western India comprising four states (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Gujarat) was presented at the 5th Regional Conference on 'Children in Difficult Circumstances' organised by Plan India. Experts from various state institutes, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations participated in the discussion.

The findings of the western regional consultation will be part of the National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances in November 2016 in New Delhi. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers across India to deliberate on issues relating to the numerous problems faced by children and the commitments via practices, programmes, policies and investment required to address these. Similar consultations were conducted in 4 other regions across India. This included Southern regional conference which was conducted at Vijayawada, Northern at Lucknow, Eastern at Kolkata and Northeastern conference at Guwahati.

Children in difficult circumstances comprise of children living on the streets and working, children affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. Millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security owing to their situation.

As per current statistics, 23 million children below the age of six years are malnourished (ICDS Status Report), 19 million children are living and working on the urban streets of India (UNHCHR Report) and 4.3 million children remain still employed as child labourers (2011 Census of India).

Speaking on the occasion Pradeep Narayanan, Director, Programme Strategy and Policy, Plan India said, "The consultation is an attempt to identify existing gaps in policies and programmes and recommend a collective call for action to address these issues for bringing positive impact on children's life. As a leading national organisation on child rights, Plan India attempts to highlight and ensure access to the rights and entitlements of children who face multiple deprivation and vulnerabilities owing to their circumstances."

The consultation was organised by Plan India, a leading NGO working on child development in partnership with Academy of Gandhian Studies (AGS). Distinguished delegates included Mr. Nagargoje, IAS, Commissioner of Women and Child Development, Government of Maharashtra, Pradeep Narayanan, Director, Programme Strategy and Policy, Plan India, Dr GRS Rao, Chairman, Academy of Gandhian Studies and Gopala Krishna Murthy, Member Secretary, Academy of Gandhian Studies and Ms Vaidyanathan Krishna Murthy, Samhita Social Ventures.

Gopala Krishna Murthy, Member Secretary of Academy of Gandhian Studies said, "This workshop is a platform to bring together policy makers, planners and implementers from both government as well as civil society groups to share their experiences of various programmes preventing child marriage, child labour, missing and runaway children."

The consultation also reviewed the existing best practices, effectiveness of government policies, legislation and programmes in addressing the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable children. The participants discussed about multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights to children and attempted to find possible solutions to these problems.

Participants acknowledged that promoting knowledge management and collaborative processes, including research are important drivers in influencing policies, practices and investment to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances.

Concerns of vulnerable children in East India presented in Kolkata

Kolkata, September 1, 2016 - A consolidated report on the situation of vulnerable and excluded children from Eastern India comprising six states and one union territory (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sikkim, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh) was presented at the East Indian Regional Conference on 'Children in Difficult Circumstances' organised by Plan India. Experts from various state institutes, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations participated in the discussion.

The findings of the eastern regional consultation will be part of the National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances in November 2016 in New Delhi. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers across India to deliberate on issues relating to the numerous problems faced by children and the commitments via practices, programmes, policies and investment required to address these.

Children in difficult circumstances comprise of children living on the streets and working, children affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. Millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security owing to their situation.

As per current statistics, 23 million children below the age of six years are malnourished (ICDS Status Report), 19 million children are living and working on the urban streets of India (UNHCHR Report) and 4.3 million children remain still employed as child labourers (2011 Census of India).

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Pradeep Narayanan, Director, Programme Strategy and Policy, Plan India said, "Plan India, through its programmes and project interventions attempts to highlight and ensure the access of their rights and entitlements of children who face multiple deprivation and vulnerabilities owing to their circumstances. Among the groups that Plan India has worked with are : Child labourers, Children of Female Sex Workers, Street and Working Children, Children Affected by HIV/AIDS (CABA) and Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking (VOCSETs), children with disabilities, children from tribal communities."

The consultation was organised by Plan India, a leading NGO working on child development in partnership with Child in Need Institute (CINI). Distinguished delegates included - Shashi Panja, Minister-in-Charge, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal, Arti Kujur, Chairperson, Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, N.G. Hira, IAS,Commissioner and Director, ICDS, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Richa Mishra, IFS, Director, Directorate of Child Rights and Trafficking, Government of West Bengal, Kalyan Rath, Deputy Secretary, Child Welfare and Women and Child Development, Government of Odisha, Subrato Roy Gupta, Scientist National Informatics Centre, Shanti Kindo, Member, Child Labour Commission, Government of Jharkhand, Roshni Sen, IAS, Secretary, Child Development Department and Women Development and Social welfare Department, Govt of West Bengal, Imamuddin Ahmad, Director, Department of Social Welfare, Bihar.

Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, Director, CINI said, "This workshop is a platform to bring together policy makers, planners and implementers from both government as well as civil society groups to share their experiences of various programmes preventing child marriage, child labour, missing and runaway children."

The consultation also reviewed the existing best practices, effectiveness of government policies, legislation and programmes in addressing the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable children. The participants discussed about multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights to children and attempted to find possible solutions to these problems.

Participants acknowledged that promoting knowledge management and collaborative processes, including research are important drivers in influencing policies, practices and investment to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances.

Third Regional Conference on CIDC held in Guwahati

Guwahati, 26 August 2016 - A consolidated report on the situation of vulnerable and excluded children from six states of Northeast India namely, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh was presented at the 3rd Regional Conference on 'Children in Difficult Circumstances' organised by Plan India. Experts from various state institutes, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations participated in the discussion.

The findings of the state consultation will be part of the National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances in November 2016 in New Delhi. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers across India to deliberate on issues relating to the numerous problems faced by children and the commitments via practices, programmes, policies and investment required to address these.

Children in difficult circumstances comprise of children living on the streets and working, children affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. Millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security owing to their situation.

As per current statistics, 23 million children below the age of six years are malnourished (ICDS Status Report), 19 million children are living and working on the urban streets of India (UNHCHR Report) and 4.3 million children remain still employed as child labourers (2011 Census of India).

Speaking on the occasion Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, said "As a leading national organisation on child rights, Plan India has been consistently advocating for the survival, protection, development and participation rights of all children, especially the most disadvantaged. The consultation is an effort to recognise the existing gaps in policies and programmes and make concrete action plans to address the issues of children in difficult circumstances"

The consultation was organised by Plan India, a leading NGO working on child development in partnership with Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses. Distinguished delegates included Anita Agnihotri, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India; Madhu K Garg, Secretary, Social Welfare, Arunachal Pradesh; Hemanata Narzary, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare, Assam; T Dkhar, Commissioner cum Secretary, Meghalaya; Dellirose M. Sakhrie, Secretary, Social Welfare, Nagaland; Chaitany Murti, Special Secretary, Social Welfare, Tripura; S K Devvarman, Secretary, Social Welfare, Manipur; Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India; Rajesh Kumar, Executive Director, SPYM and Gary Reid, Consultant, World Health Organisation.

Rajesh Kumar, Executive Director, SPYM said "Children in difficult circumstances are at great risk of suffering as their basic needs for food, shelter, education, medical care protection are not met. We need to recognise and develop an understanding of the multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights of children and seek solutions to address the problem."

The consultation also reviewed the existing best practices, effectiveness of government policies, legislation and programmes in addressing the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable children. The participants discussed about multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights to children and attempted to find possible solutions to these problems.

Participants acknowledged that promoting knowledge management and collaborative processes, including research are important drivers in influencing policies, practices and investment to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances.

Experts stress on the need to scale up Village Water Safety and Security process

New Delhi, 24, August 2016 - At the National Conference on Village Water Safety and Security (VWSS) organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India and Plan India, key sector players/practitioners came together to share success stories and approaches in promoting secured and safe water supply in the country and to overcome key challenges.

Over the years, efforts made by Government of India with inputs from various stakeholders, through central schemes such as the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and the Swachh Bharat Mission have led to an increase in coverage and improvement in availability of drinking water and household toilets. However, sustainability of drinking water sources, ensuring effective operation and maintenance of systems, deteriorating water quality issues and need for adoption of sustained sanitation practices remain key challenges.

On the occasion, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, said "Plan India's Water and Sanitation programme intervention adopts a child centred community development approach. We are complimenting the efforts of the government in taking forward the Swachh Bharat Mission. Our effort is also to strengthen communities in our intervention areas and to develop appropriate operation and maintenance schemes."

"The current focus is on increasing sanitation coverage by building toilets but in many areas absence of water supply is leading to non-usage of toilets. Other challenges include a perceived acceptability of open defecation which prevents people from building and owning a toilet; lack of awareness of the linkages between using a toilet, the safe disposal of faeces and hygiene and health; non maintenance and low usage of toilets and deterioration of ground water level and quality." she added

According to NGOs, scaling up VWSS can help improve access to quality drinking water and household toilet conditions. It can also help secure water during floods and droughts. Under the VWSS programme, a village plans for improving its sanitation coverage as well ensuring water availability simultaneously. Developed by Plan India in collaboration with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in August 2013, the programme involves an integrated approach using a larger social mobilisation process, community development, capacity building and technology to create awareness and bring about change in prevailing practices at the household and community level to help sustain availability, effective use and proper maintenance of water supply and sanitation facilities.

So far the pilot projects in Jharkhand have yielded good results. With the help of this unique programme, 2500 families have submitted proposals for toilet construction, 578 families have already received INR 53 lakhs under Swachh Bharat Mission and 237 families have completed their toilet construction. Water supply schemes have been sanctioned in four villages and 19 new hand pumps have been installed in the proposed 35 locations. 13 villages have submitted their water samples to the district laboratory for water quality testing and reports have been received. 50% drainage repair has been completed in one of the districts and toilets in 3 out of 21 Anganwadis have been completed.

In Bihar, under the project titled "Promoting Sustainable Sanitation in Rural India", being implemented in Gopalganj and Bethia districts since October 2013, the local government has declared 30 villages as Open Defecation Free (ODF) and many villages are in the process of becoming ODF. The project team managed to leverage INR 9.5 crores from Swachh Bharat Mission for toilet construction. Piprasi block in Behtia district is now declared an ODF block under this project.

Currently VWSS is piloted by UNICEF and World Bank in villages in Chandrapur (110 villages) in Maharashtra.

At present the water supply situation in rural India is dismal. The standard is a clean and safe supply of 40 Litres per Capita per Day (LCPD). However out of total 16,93,531 rural habitations, only 12,50,798 habitations (73.73 %) get the above supply. Another 3,67,225 habitations (21.6%) are only partially covered and 78,505 habitations (4.6%) get poor quality water which is affected by fluoride/arsenic/iron/salinity/nitrate.

VWSS planning is a participatory process putting community in the forefront. The process begins with participatory situation assessment and analysis followed by development of implementable action plans with clearly defined roles, responsibilities and milestones. The process involves communities, CBOs, Gram Panchayats, Parent Teacher Associations, facilitating agencies, village level government key officials and technical expert groups. The activities in the plan are then implemented through community participation and convergence of government schemes.

The conference was jointly organised by Plan India, a leading NGO working on child development and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India.

Concerns of vulnerable children in Uttar Pradesh presented

Lucknow, 22 August 2016 - Government officials, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations in Uttar Pradesh and seven other states of North India namely, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana came together at the 2nd Regional Conference on 'Children in Difficult Circumstances' organised by Plan India to present the consolidated report on the situation of these children in their respective states. The findings of the state consultation will be part of the National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances in November 2016 in New Delhi. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers across India and elsewhere to deliberate on issues relating to the numerous problems faced by children and the commitments via practices, programmes, policies and investment required to address these.

Children in difficult circumstances comprise of children living on the streets and working, children affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. As per the findings, millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security owing to their situation.

Speaking on the occasion Ms. Charu Anand, Plan India said, "Plan India, through its programmes and project interventions, attempts to highlight and ensure access to the rights and entitlements of children who face multiple deprivation and vulnerabilities owing to their circumstances. The consultation is an attempt to identify existing gaps in policies and programmes and recommend a collective call for action to address these issues for bringing positive impact on children's life."

The consultation was organised by Plan India, a leading NGO working on child development in partnership with Gram Niyojan Kendra. Distinguished delegates included Mr. Alok Ranjan - Principal Advisor to Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Renuka Kumar - Principal Secretary Department of Women Welfare, Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Former Justice Allahabad High Court, Ms. Jeroo Master - Chief, UNICEF Lucknow, Mr. Kulbir Krishan Advisor, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Delhi, Dr. Sutapa Mukherjee, Secretary, Gram Niyojan Kendra, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Komal Ganotra, Director, CRY and Mr. Mohammed Asif, Programme Director, Plan India.

As per current statistics, 23 million children below the age of six years are malnourished (ICDS Status Report), 19 million children are living and working on the urban streets of India (UNHCHR Report) and 4.3 million children are still employed as child labourers (2011 Census of India). Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India accounts for the majority of such children who require urgent attention.

Dr. Sutapa Mukherjee, General Secretary, Gram Niyojan Kendra said, "Children in difficult circumstances are at greater risk of malnutrition, disease and possibly death. They experience violation of their rights and more prone to abuse. Unless collective efforts are placed to change their situation, further generations are likely to endure even greater misery and suffering."

The consultation also reviewed the existing best practices, effectiveness of government policies, legislation and programmes in addressing the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable children. The participants discussed about multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights to children and attempted to find possible solutions to these problems.

Participants acknowledged that promoting knowledge management and collaborative processes, including research are important drivers in influencing policies, practices and investment to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances.

First Regional CIDC Conference held in Vijayawada

Plan India in collaboration with AGS organised regional on CIDC, putting the last children first and documenting the emerging innovative practices in the state. This consultation is a part of the phased process for an upcoming National Consultation scheduled to be organised this year. Andhra Pradesh Assembly Deputy Speaker Sri. Mandali Buddha Prasad and Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary, Sri Satya Prakash Tucker, I.A.S inaugurated the conference today.

Speaking on the occasion, Sri. Satya Prakash Tucker, IAS, Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary, said, "For the better efficiency and quick results in the area of children's issues it is important for an efficient partnership between government and NGO."

Over 100 NGOs and various government departments, subject experts and partners participated in the conference to bring together all the NGOs working on Children's Issues in South India. Recalling his experiences Sri. Mandali Buddha Prasad Chief Speaker, Andhra Pradesh Assembly praised the efforts of the various NGOs in bring about sustainable change for over 5 million children within the past one year.

In the welcome address, Mr. Mr. Gopala Krishna Murthy, Member Secretary of Academy of Gandhian Studies, highlighted the fact that children constitute over 39% of India's population, the highest proportion in the world. The Constitution of India mandates that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment." Yet, there remain millions of children who continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements owing to their situation and the inability of government structures to reach them. Children are in especially difficult circumstances when their basic needs for food, shelter, education, medical care, or protection, discrimination and security are not met. Such children are at great risk of suffering malnutrition, disease and possibly death. Unless their own situation changes, their condition of gross disadvantage will extend to their own children who may suffer even greater misery and suffering.

Introducing the conference, Mr. Pradeep Narayanan, Director, Programme Strategy and Policy, Plan India said, "Plan India through its programmes and project interventions attempts to highlight and ensure the access of their rights and entitlements of children who face multiple deprivation and vulnerabilities owing to their circumstances. Among the groups that Plan India has worked with are: Child labourers, Children of Female Sex Workers, Street and Working Children, Children Affected by HIV/AIDS (CABA) and Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking (VOCSETs), children with disabilities, children from tribal communities."

Ms. Anita Kumar, Sr. Programme Manager, Plan India, presented the situation in South India and said, "As a leading national organisation on child rights, Plan India has been consistently advocating for the survival, protection, development and participation rights of all children, especially the most disadvantaged. Plan India has also partnered with government agencies, statutory institutions, NGOs, children's networks, UN agencies, communities, youth and children to highlight the issues of all children, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised."

Social Art for Behavioural Change Workshop

New Delhi: To raise awareness and end child begging at traffic signals in New Delhi, Plan India hosted a week-long event with 500 children connected with the streets and resettlement colonies of New Delhi. The aim of the workshop was to identify peer educators amongst the children so they become "Champions of Change" and gain awareness to support the on-ground programme of making Delhi a begging free zone at the traffic signals.

Plan India partnered with Sakshi to implement the workshop. Primarily, it focused on enhancing the creative capabilities of children through various components such as adventure, theatre, films, storytelling, mask theatre, puppetry, dance, street art amongst others.

Known personalities like Sandip Sopaarkar, Vikram Mohan, Anil Mishra, Rekha Bahl, Rajesh Bahl, Jaya Iyer, Milind Gawali, N Shivapriya, Monika and Gaurav facilitated over the children, encouraging them to see, hear and think for themselves as meaningful and productive members of society, against the backdrop of creative, adventure based, meditative and substantive inputs.

The workshop culminated in a grand performance of dance and music at Raahgiri Day in Connaught Place, Delhi, featuring all 500 children.

Media Coverage

Times of India

Hindustan Times

Business Standard

Anil Kapoor turns the spotlight on child labour

MUMBAI, June 10, 2016: Eminent actor and philanthropist Anil Kapoor will front a new campaign that brings much needed attention to child labour in India.

One of the world's fastest growing economies, India is home to the largest population of child labourers in the world.

The actor, who is the Goodwill Ambassador for child rights organisation Plan India, will campaign for the NGO's new initiative to raise awareness and inspire action to pull millions of children out of all forms of labour.

"Every morning over 8 million children in India go to work instead of going to school. Our economic progress loses a lot of meaning if hundreds of thousands of children have no hopes of a future," said Mr Kapoor addressing the media in Mumbai to mark the International Day Against Child Labour, which is commemorated on June 12.

According to India's 2011 Census, out of 8.2 million child labourers under the age of 14 years, over 2 million are very young children between 5 and 9 years. Millions of children have no access to basic food, shelter, education, medical care or security. They endure extreme poverty and are constantly at risk of exploitation and danger, living and working in circumstances simply unfit for a child.

Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, "As part of our vision for 2020, Plan India is committed to improving the lives of 2 million children and youth, through direct programme interventions and by working in close collaboration with the Government and other partners to ensure that no child is left behind."

"Plan India has worked with thousands of children who were forced into labour over the past ten years and has seen a transformational change in their lives through interventions at the family and community levels. At Plan India, we strive to ensure that no child is left in difficult situations and is ensured of her or his right to protection, education and health care."

Mr. Kapoor also announced that a National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances will be held in New Delhi in November 2016. When the basic needs such as food, shelter, education, medical care and protection, are not met, children are considered to be in difficult circumstances.

The Conference will be the first ever gathering on the issue where child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers from across India and the world will exchange ideas and best practice in tackling the root causes of inequality and injustices faced by children.

As part of announcing this engagement with the initiative, Mr. Kapoor met with children from Mumbai's slums who work to support their families and are therefore unable to attend regular schools. However, the children are able to continue their education with the help of a mobile classroom that travels to their localities. It is part of Plan India's innovative programme - School on Wheels that uses a bus designed as a mobile school to provide alternate educational facilities for slum children who don't go to school in order to earn an income. The project is being implemented in South Mumbai slums and around 3,000 children benefit from the project every year.

Bharti, 15, works before and after class, but School on Wheels remains the highlight of her day. "I like coming to school. I like studying. The teacher looks after us", she says. Her friend Yasmeen, who works as a domestic worker in the morning, agrees it is a good way to escape a life fraught with poverty. "After work, I come to school and I sing songs and draw pictures.

Mr. Kapoor added, "Having been associated with Plan India all these years, we've been able to improve the lives of over a million children and their families. But there is still a long way to go and one resounding imperative - child labour and exploitation must end. We are all responsible for coming generations and the world we leave to them. It is time our movement became everybody's movement."

Mr. Kapoor also unveiled an exhibition documenting the lives of children in difficult circumstances at the Atrium, High street Phoenix.

The high street Phoenix has been known for its contribution towards societal issues especially related to the education of children across strata of society. It is now supporting Plan India in their efforts to end one of our society's biggest ills - "child labour" with the intension of sending children back to school.

News Coverage

Times of India

Business Standard

Economic Times

Indian Express

Reuters

Deccan Chronicle

The Hindu

Launching Phase III of the Young Health Programme

16th May 2016, New Delhi: Plan India in partnership with AstraZeneca celebrated the success of the Young Health Programme (YHP) Phase I and II (2010-2015) and launched Phase III (2016-2020) in five more resettlement communities in New Delhi.

The third phase of the YHP aims to reach out to an additional 130,000 young boys and girls. This phase was started today through a door-to-door campaign where 1,000 peer educators and youth volunteers sensitised community members on the dangers of heat waves and precautions to take. The campaign was rolled out in the resettlement colonies of New Delhi covering Sultanpuri, Kirari Suleman Nagar, Jahangirpuri, Bawana and Holambi Khurd, reaching out to more than 20,000 households and more than one lakh individuals.

There is an immense urgency to work on adolescent health issues in India:

  • 30 per cent of India's population, that is approximately 327 million, are aged between 10 - 24 years
  • 3 million drug abusers and 0.6 million drug dependents in India are in the age group of 16-35 years
  • 30% women (15 -19 years) have had live births before 19 years of age
  • 60% girls (15- 19 years) have been found to be anaemic , which is also the leading cause of increased age-specific mortality amongst adolescent female

Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India stated, "YHP is a crucial programme for Plan India within our Country Strategic Plan 2020. Given our strategic goal to improve health and hygiene practices through active youth engagement, the YHP provides an ideal platform for long-term, sustainable impact among the communities with whom Plan India works."

Sanjay Murdeshwar, Managing Director, AstraZeneca Pharma India Limited commented "YHP is an important programme that reflects AstraZeneca's meaningful contribution towards improving access to healthcare. YHP helps build the knowledge and capacity of young people and empower them to make informed life choices. YHP reaches out to the community members and stakeholders to enhance awareness of the inter-generational effects of risk behaviour, while contributing towards a collaboration to address risks in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) especially in diabetes. We also are committed to support research programmes that help generate the evidence required to prioritise adolescent health and the prevention of NCDs."

Street children given a voice at the United Nations Forthcoming General Comment

New Delhi, 7, April 2016: Street children expressed their views to the UN Advisory Board Members on the forthcoming UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations. This was done in a consultation jointly organised in New Delhi by Plan India and Consortium for Street Children (CSC), UK.

With the participation of almost 54 children and young people, this consultation brought evident facts in front of the UN Advisory Board Members. They interacted with the children to understand their situation and what they could do to work towards helping governments to support children for overcoming their situation. The views/recommendations shared will be reflected in the forthcoming UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations, a key piece of international law on children's rights, laying out governments obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Distinguished delegates included Stuti Kacker, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, Ms. Surina Narula, President CSC and Plan India Patron, Ms. Yasmeen Shariff and Mr Gehad Madi, Member, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Committee and Advisory Board, Ms. Elinor Milne, Advocacy Manager, Consortium for Street Children, Dr. Rinchen Chople, Director General, South Asian Initiative for Eliminating Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC). Officials from other international organisations working on the issues of street children, such as Save the Children, Plan India, Wold Vision, ChildLine Foundation, SOS-Nepal, CWIN-Nepal, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Oxfam among others were also a part of this event.

Street-connected children, who live or work on the street or simply spend much of their time in public spaces, experience severe and ongoing violations of their rights. They are constantly exposed to violence from adults, the police and other street children. They experience extreme stigma and discrimination and are often unable to access food, clean water, shelter, healthcare and basic services. In the past, national programmes and plans to address street children's rights have failed because they have not taken account of or responded to children's needs. Till date two programmes have been formulated by the Indian government - Integrated Child Protection Scheme which encompasses street children in need of care and protection and National Plan of Action for Street Children.

Mr. Gehad Madi, Member, UNCRC Committee and Advisory Board said, "Developed by the UN's highest authority on children's right, the general comments lay out for the first time what the governments must do to respect children's rights under international law. These recommendations will prove to be a powerful tool to promote street children's rights."

Plan India has been working with street children in India for over a decade. The flagship programmes includes School on Wheels, an initiative to improving the quality of education for underprivileged children, Dreams on Streets, a programme to end child begging at traffic signals of Delhi and Dreams on Wheels, an initiative that involve working with children living on railway platforms.

Ms. Surina Narula, President CSC and Plan India Patron said, "The UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations is an historical event marking the acknowledgement of the existence of street children who had been invisible despite the struggle of civil societies to bring them on the agenda of governments."

Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, said, "Plan India has been working with street connected children for over ten years and it is our firm belief that the voices of children have lent credence to all our work. At Plan India, we strongly believe that no child should be subjected to violence, abuse and exploitation. And it is important to create platforms for children to voice their opinions."

Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with high levels of urban poverty have the largest numbers of children living on the streets, both boys and girls. Rapid structural changes through liberalisation and globalisation policies have contributed to inequities and increased incidences of destitution in many parts of South Asia. Faced by poverty, homelessness, separation from their families and unable to go to school, street children are forced to work. These issues are inextricably linked to a range of issues including endemic poverty, domestic and/or sexual abuse and other forms of violence, hazardous working conditions, exploitative labour and substance abuse, conflict with the law and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Ms. Elinor Milne, Advocacy Manager, Consortium for Street Children, said, "The prevalence of street children is a global issue. We need to develop and effectively implement comprehensive national strategies to address the complexity of these children's lives. Street-connected children should have a full and proper say in shaping a better future for themselves and getting their voices heard at the highest levels."

Press Coverage

Anil Kapoor on raising daughters to become independent women

Over three decades, I’ve had the good fortune of living my childhood dream. As an actor, I strive to learn and do meaningful work every day and this has served me well throughout my career. Of course, none of it came easy. My start in the movies was beset by challenges, but it only strengthened my determination to make something of myself, to succeed. Some might say I’ve achieved some of what I set out to.

The one thing I can say with absolute certainty however, is that my greatest success and strength is my family.

In my lovely wife Sunita, I have found inspiration and an anchor to weather the toughest of times. She is the reason I am a better man, and has given me the best gift anyone could ever hope for: three beautiful children who lit up our lives with their precious laughter, curiosity and innocence. As a family man in a competitive industry, I found peace in coming home after a hard day’s work. Despite the successes and failures encountered on our way, Sunita and I endeavoured to create a happy, healthy environment for our kids, far removed from the excesses of Bollywood life. After all, I spent the best years of my life growing up in a crowded chawl in Mumbai.

As parents, our hope was to nurture our children and ensure they grew into well-adjusted and self-sufficient adults. Being as we have two spirited daughters, this has been an extraordinary journey. Daughters, those of you who have them will agree, are a source of great warmth and wisdom. Some of my fondest memories include receiving surprisingly astute life advice from my 3 and 5 year old over cornflakes. In many ways, seeing the world through their eyes helped me see the goodness in it.

Today, Sonam and Rhea are strong, independent and beautiful young women who live their lives with purpose. Guided by a keen sense of right and wrong, they work hard every day to make the world a better, more just place. Over the years, we’ve gone from wanting to shield them, to wonderment over the inspiring individuals they have become.

This has as much to do with them as their education. We were fortunate enough to be able to provide our girls with opportunities to go to school and expand their horizons. Education is undoubtedly a stairway to countless possibilities for a bright future. It is this belief that drives me to support Plan India’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign.

Plan India and I go back a long way, and I take great pride in having worked with them in their efforts to ensure children, especially young girls, stay in school and are safe, happy and healthy. A quality education enables young girls to grow into independent and capable young women, transforming their lives and those of their families and communities too.

For parents, there can be no greater triumph than having ensured the next generation will lead full lives ripe with meaning, and truly make a difference. To this extent, we must do all that we can and more!

I am grateful for the blessings I’ve received in the love of my family and fans. This March 8th, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, let’s pledge in solidarity to promote women’s rights and those of young girls who will go on to change the world. To all the fathers out there with precious daughters - you are extremely lucky to experience the joy of raising daughters. I know I am!

Plan India unveils Rs 1,000 crore ambition to transform lives of 2 million children

New Delhi 17, February, 2016 - Plan India, one of the largest global child rights organisations, will invest Rs 1,000 crore (US$146 million) in programmes to improve the lives of 2 million children directly and 5 million more through advocacy efforts over the next five years.

Projects will be implemented across 14 states to support some of the most excluded and disadvantaged communities in 6,000 villages and slums in India.

"Children living in slum areas suffer from some of the poorest health and living conditions in the country, leaving them at greater risk of disease and chronic health problems. Girls are particularly affected as they so often bear the brunt of the consequences of inequality. Our development work is committed to empowering all children, their families and communities to be able to lead a life of dignity," said Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director of Plan India.

Research by Plan India has shown that children can face many barriers to education, healthcare and protection.

"India is home to the largest number of children in the world. This presents challenges in protecting girls and boys and from abuse and violence and ensuring they have access to quality healthcare, education, immunisation and nutrition. Difficult urban living conditions, limited voice in decision-making and a lack of a secure tenure, assets and legal protection have adversely affected children," she added.

The major focus of Plan India's programmes will be on improving access to water and hygiene services; protecting children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence; strengthening access to quality reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health services; education; youth employability and building disaster-resilient communities.

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO, Plan International said, "The world is going through a period of great change and nowhere is this more apparent than India – a country that is progressing at an incredibly fast pace. With these shifts, it's important that all children reap the benefits of development so that they can reach their full potential and achieve all that they desire in their lives. This is especially vital for girls, who are so often excluded from opportunities in life and forced to undertake a path not of their choosing. An educated girl is an empowered girl who will contribute to her family, community and country.

"Our work at Plan International is very much grounded in the determination to leave no one behind. No child should grow up without a voice and we have a collective responsibility to ensure those voices are heard and listened to. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) give us a strong foundation on which we can build a better life for children today, tomorrow and beyond. We have the opportunity – now let's seize it."

Plan India will continue to focus on tackling exclusion and gender inequality, working in partnership with communities, government and civil society to advance the child development agenda.

Plan India Partner's with Difficult Dialogues

Plan India is proud to have partnered with Difficult Dialogues to raise awareness and foster informed engagement on critical development issues in India and across South Asia. An independent, non-partisan forum that deploys interaction and knowledge sharing for social change, Difficult Dialogues explores multi-faceted solution-driven empowerment and its impact.

As a long-time supporter and promoter of girl's and women's rights, Plan India was privileged to lead a star studded panel on early child marriage at the first ever Difficult Dialogues festival in Goa on January 29, 2016. Deliberating on the causal factors and implications of early marriage and effective management of current policies, advocacy and programmes were a host of outstanding experts, policy makers and scholars including Arti Kirloskar, Arvind Ojha, Gopalakrishna Murthy, Naina Kapur, Patralekha Chatterjee, Senait Gebregziabher and Smita Bharti.

Speaking to a packed house, the panel is best summed up by a quote from a young female attendee from Rajasthan, "The world will change at the hands of strong, indomitable girls that defend their rights and those of others. There's a long way to go, but together we can ensure that all young girls and boys are given a chance to reach for their dreams and succeed."

Plan India also hosted an exhibition on financial inclusion, displaying the inspiring stories and intricate handmade creations of successful businesswomen who started out in an 18,000-member women's federation facilitated by Plan India in the resettlement colonies of New Delhi.

Continuing its quest for child-centred and inclusive development, Plan India aims to transform the lives of children, their families and communities across the country.

Plan India launches the Dreams on Streets project

Plan India is proud to announce the launch of the Dreams on Streets project.

In collaboration with Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) and Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action (CHETNA), the project will aim to end child begging at traffic signals in New Delhi.

The overarching goal is to ensure that children in begging are gradually weaned away from begging and mainstreamed into government schools where they can continue with their education and learning. The project will also seek to link the families/caregivers of these children with sustainable livelihood so that household economic security is achieved.

Presently, the Dreams on Streets project is designed as a pilot initiative targeting approximately 600-700 children who were forced into begging at four major traffic signals in the city. After intense consultations with experts from the sector and undertaking feasibility analysis, Plan is proposing to deploy an in-situ approach wherein the project team would connect and engage with the children and their caregivers at the traffic signals itself. Through integrated programming on child protection, education, health, personal hygiene and livelihoods linkages of the family/caregivers of the children, the project will seeks to ensure that Delhi is free of child begging.

Target Population

  • Children who are forced to beg by their parents/guardians
  • Children who are forced to beg by individuals which may include gangs, local goons, friends, extended family members, etc.
  • Children who beg on their own - orphans, deserted, runaways, trafficked, drug-users, etc.

Proposed Objectives

  • Facilitate access to mainstream education for begging children through linkage with government schools and enrolment in Anganwadi Centres (for children above 6 years)
  • Extend health and hygiene, legal aid, psychological counselling support services and opportunities for development to affected children
  • Reduce vulnerability of children to substance abuse, petty crimes and their physical and sexual exploitation through day-care age-appropriate services in a child friendly environment
  • Support reintegration of children with their families (through Child Welfare Committees) and referral of destitute children in foster care homes/hostels and residential schools
  • Sensitising and working with families who force children to beg to support the family needs
  • Build capacity of key stakeholder(s) through training

Plan India's releases State of the Girl Child in India Report 2015

New Delhi, 20th October 2015: Plan India's State of the Girl Child in India Report 2015, 'The State of the Girls: What Next?' assumes a special significance as the year marks the 20th anniversary of the UN World Conference in Beijing that had set the agenda for bringing women's equality issues to the world stage. The year also marks the culmination of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the transition to new strategic path - the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which includes incorporation of emerging national priorities for women and child rights in India. Further, Plan India also embarks upon its fourth Country Strategic Plan IV (July 2015 - June 2020) that specially commits to integrating principles, strategy and programmes for gender equality and social inclusions.

Releasing the report, Mr. Govind Nihalani, Chair Emeritus, Plan India, said "Plan's 2015 BIAAG report focusses on assessing the state of girls in India on issues covered in the previous year: gender discrimination and its impact on girls schooling; girls in changing urban and digital landscape; engaging men and boys towards gender equality; learning for life for girls and adolescents; situation of adolescent girls at times of disasters and pathways to empowering girls. The report also covers case stories of positive deviance from Plan programme areas and views of leading development specialists, policy and opinion influencers".

Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, underlined the key findings of the report and added that "Even though there has been improvement in the status of girls, a lot more needs to be done because a large portion of girls in India still experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Plan India is committed to change her circumstances and life".

Taking part in a panel discussion, Ms. Arti Kirloskar, Chairperson, Plan India Governing Board, said "Communities and countries should ensure that their girls and women are safe and secure, have equal opportunities for well-being and high self-esteem. The call for commitment is from all stakeholders at various levels and in a position to encourage gender equality in the spirit as articulated in the SDGs. Corporates are a very significant player in this context. Gender transformative work cultures and CSR programmes and policies will have a dual impact: one on their own efficiencies and work environment and second on the value for investments made in community development programmes. Investing in girls is indeed the smartest investment in advancing generations to a path of sustained development".

Ms. Frederika Meijer, Representative India/Country Director Bhutan, UNFPA moderated the discussion. Ms. Surina Narula, Patron, Plan India, Philanthropist and Social Activist, Ms. Sonali Khan, Vice President and Country Director, Breakthrough, Ms. Nalini Gangadharan, Chairperson, CAP Foundation, Ms. Jyoti Singh, President, Sakhi Sangam for Social Change also took part in the discussion.

The report dwells on the findings of earlier reports for future direction and programmatic consideration. These includes advocacy efforts as well as broad direction for policy development and programme implementation. It aims to mobilise Government and Non-Government Organisations to integrate a vision for equitable and a violence free environment for girls.

Plan India recognises a stronger effort to work in coordination with the civil society, government provisions, legal, policies and programmes and the private sector.

Some aspects of concern in this regard include improved implementation of legislation in context of girls, incorporation of gender equality aspects in school curriculum and the design of interventions that serve to economically empower girls. The report further suggests the need for advocacy to develop a SDG framework that includes gender transformatory aspects as an independent goal and has a specific focus on girls and women. The report also suggest the need to recognise gender imperatives across development programmes in the country, and the implementation of gender-responsive budgeting. Further, the report calls for a review to improve data collection and reporting methodology on the status of girls and women in India.

An exhibition on the BIAAG theme was put up by children from various Plan communities.

Because I am a Girl is Plan's global gender equity and equality campaign to create a world that values girls, promotes girls' rights and ends injustice. The campaign supports millions of girls in getting the education, skills and support they need to move from poverty to a future of opportunity. Through this campaign, we are committed to driving a global movement that transforms power relations so girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.

The campaign empowers girls and boys to become agents of change. Putting children's voices at the centre of the social movement is a core belief that underpins our work and our commitment to create lasting change.

Maternal and child health care initiative under PPTCT programme launched

New Delhi, 14th October 2015: A round table discussion was organised by Plan International India today to launch Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) supported programme for Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) project called IAPSI (Improving access to PMTCT Public Sector Services).

The Round Table was moderated by Shri. J.V.R. Prasada Rao, former Health Secretary and Director General, NACO, Government of India and Member of Governing Board, Plan International India. Among the participants were Dr. R. S Gupta, DDG, NACO, DR. Naina Rani, WHO, Ena Singh, UNFPA, Dr. Asha Hedge, National Programme Officer, NACO.

The programme will be implemented within 27 months in 218 districts across the 9 states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The programme will directly benefit pregnant mothers by increasing the uptake of PPTCT services from 30% to 70%.

The aim of the programme is to improve access to PPTCT services for pregnant women in these 9 states and build skills among peripheral health workers under general health system in PPTCT for increasing the uptake in a sensitive manner and to conduct outreach and follow up of HIV Positive Women and HIV exposed infants.

Ms Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan International India, shared that Plan had earlier carried out a similar project entitled HEART (HIV prevention, early diagnosis among pregnant women and Reducing HIV Infection Through safe delivery and breast feeding. The three year pilot HEART project implemented in 3 districts of Pune in Maharashtra, Ganjam in Odisha and Mao in Uttar Pradesh to support maternal and child health issues.

  • 2002: Started with National Consultation on HIV and AIDS to deliberate on impact of HIV on the children living in difficult circumstances
  • 2004: Developed child friendly comic books on HIV and AIDS
  • Developed HIV and AIDS Awareness Package (HAAP) - Computer game, animation film, puppetry and comics. This project received the Manthan Award and is widely used by NACO and SACS
  • 2005 - 2010: Prevention of child trafficking and HIV/AIDS in AP
  • 2007 - 2011: CHAHA (Global Fund Rd-6) SR for AP and Maharashtra
  • 2008 - 2014: Link Workers Scheme project under NACP-III in Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Punjab
  • 2009 - 2010: Advocacy campaign with parliamentarians on passing of HIV and AIDS bills
  • 2009 - 2015: PPTCT in 3 districts of Odisha (Ganjam), Maharashtra (Pune) and UP (Mau) supported by Plan International Japan Office
  • 2009 - 2010: Care and support of children of female sex workers in Pune
  • 2010 -2011: Care and support programme of Children Affected by HIV and AIDS (CABA) in Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra
  • 2012 - 2016: Livelihoods project of Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking (VOCSET) and Women affected by HIV/AIDS (WAA) in the state of AP, Bihar, Maharashtra and UP supported by Axis Bank Foundation
  • 2013 - 2015: Sub recipient of Vihaan programme (Global Fund Rd.-4, RCC-II) in the state of Bihar

#GirlsVoices: Roma, challenging gender stereotypes

10th Oct, 2015: 21-year-old Roma is a graduate of Plan International's Saksham project, which provides job orientated vocational training for young people aged 18 to 29 from poor and disadvantaged communities in Delhi.

Saksham is challenging traditional gender stereotypes and discrimination, by sharing information with parents, communities, and employers about gender equality, equal opportunity, and economic empowerment of young girls.

We spoke to Roma about what life's like for girls in her community, and how her life has changed since she found a job.

What's life like for a girl growing up in India and in your community?

In India and in my community, girls are not provided with equal opportunities in comparison to boys. They are always dependent and their freedom of movement is very restricted. Girls are told to make sacrifices and compromise in every situation. The ultimate goal of most girls is decided by their parents, and it is to marry as soon as possible.

What do you think needs to change to make sure girls and boys are treated equally?

First of all, the mentality of the community needs to change. Everyone must realise that girls and boys should be given equal opportunities, because they both play a central and vital role in the development of their country. Traditionally, parents invest in their sons because they believe that when growing old, their son will support and take care of them, whereas girls will be married and care for their own house and family. The government should provide a safe and empowering environment for girls by promoting their value to the population.

Why is it important that young people like yourself are able to get good jobs? Was it difficult for you to find a good job?

Getting a good job is the only way for us to get the experience we need to become accomplished and independent adults. Young people who have jobs are more independent and more confident.

When I had to quit school three years ago because of my family's economic difficulties, I had a really hard time finding a job as I had no qualifications or skills. I was really disappointed and starting to feel desperate. Then I finally got the opportunity to do training through one of Plan International's youth economic empowerment project that would help me find a decent job. Thanks to that training, I now work in a big jewellery outlet as sales executive.

How has your life changed since you are employed?

The biggest change in my life since I started working is that I managed to save enough money to start studying again. It was a real moment of pride for me. If everything goes well, next year I will be able to pass my Bachelor's Degree. It's been two years now since I have been working. I am more independent because I can take care of my own expenses, make my own decisions and also support my family.

What does your family think about what you have achieved?

My family is very proud of me. I supported them when they were in need and I am still supporting them today. My parents often ask me for advice before taking any decision related to household expenses and financial matters. For example, when my father had taken a big loan from his employer a few years ago, I advised him and helped him to pay it back, and he followed all of my advice. I also guide my siblings with career choices. I am much more confident now that I can take care of myself and my family.

Do you think it is important for young people to be asked for their opinion about things which affect them? What would you change in your community if you could make the decisions?

Children and young people need a platform where they can express their views and ideas. As they live in the community and are part of every challenge, they can play an important role in providing the solutions. If given the opportunity, young people can become the agents of change in their community and country.

If I could make decisions, I would make sure that all girls get an education and opportunities matching their skills. I would also create opportunities for boys and girls to interact and work with each other. Finally, I would try to ensure that boys and girls respect each other.

What do you think would change if there was a girl who became president in your country?

If a girl becomes President of India, it will motivate other girls - they will start believing that they can too become president or anything else they want in life. Parents will be more likely to support their daughters and to believe that they can do well in life. It would provide millions of girls, currently forced to live under repression and neglect, with wings to take new leaps of emancipation.

More than anything it will provide us all the ray of hope that we can expect more girl friendly schemes and services, better access to quality education and employment opportunities, provision of women-friendly spaces, more safety nets, and higher representation of women in all sectors.

Jaipur celebrates International Day of the Girl

Jaipur, 11th Oct, 2015: Plan India and the European Union celebrated girl childhood on the eve of the International Day of the Girl Child. The event titled 'Meri Beti Meri Shakti' highlighted the achievement and the progress of the girls in Plan International India intervention areas in Bikaner, Sri Ganganagar and Jaipur districts of Rajasthan. Deliberations were held at the Secretariat at National Health Mission (NHM) Jaipur on supporting the survival of girls and opportunities that will enable them to achieve their full potential.

The gathering was addressed by Dr. Johann Hesse, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to India, Krishna Kunal District Collector cum District Magistrate, Jaipur, Government of Rajasthan, Neeraj K Pawan, Deputy MD, NHM and Mohammad Asif, Director, Programme Implementation, Plan India among others. Speakers from Self Help Groups, Panchayats and anganwadi workers also spoke on the occasion. Community role models were felicitated at the function.

The event is part of a three-year European Union supported project on promoting gender equality and combating discrimination against girls in selected districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Hesse said "It is vital that children's rights are recognised as a self-standing set of concerns and not just a part of wider efforts to mainstream human rights in general. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign is a welcome step in this direction and the EU looks forward to further collaboration with the Indian Government on possible joint initiatives under this programme".

Speaking on the partnership, Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India was of the view that, "In focussing on gender equality and inclusion, special emphasis is needed on promoting the rights and entitlements of girls and women. It starts with ensuring that girl child is born".

Plan India has been working on issues related to the survival of girls and declining child sex ratio since 2005. Currently, Plan India with the support of European Union is continuing its efforts to address pre and post-birth discrimination against girls through the project - Girls Aspiration for Rights and Values - GARV, under the broad goal of empowering the community to eliminate sex determination and sex selection to guarantee a life of dignity for girls. The project has drawn up several initiatives to enhance the value of girls in society by changing the mind-set and ensuring ownership of the issues by the community and the government as the nature of the problem is socio cultural and requires an overall long term multi-targeted and multi-pronged approach.

Earlier the programme started with Thali Bajana - Celebrating the birth of girls. A film on 'Let Girls be Born' as well as the theme song of 'Because I am a Girl' - Main Hoon was screened at Plan's intervention areas in Jaipur.

Mohammad Asif was happy to inform that the song 'Main Hoon' had been adopted by the Ministry of Women and Child, Government National Scheme Beti Bacho Beti Padhao (BBBP) launched in January 2015. This song is part of the Van Movement Information, Education Communication material used for the BBBP campaign across the country in 100 critical districts having poor child sex ratio.

Plan India, a member of Plan International Federation, is a nationally registered independent child development and humanitarian organisation committed to enabling vulnerable and marginalised children, their families and communities to be free of poverty, violence and injustice. For over 35 years, Plan India and its partners have supported over a million children access their rights to protection, basic education, proper healthcare, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.

Because I am a Girl (BIAAG) is a global initiative launched by Plan International seven years ago to promote girl's rights geared towards equipping, enabling and engaging girls of all ages to acquire assets, skills knowledge necessary to succeed in life. Let Girls Be Born is a part of BIAAG campaign. Plan India is working for the right to identity for every girl, as girls are discriminated against even before they are born and even after birth due to gender inequality at every stage of their lives.

Ericsson partners with Plan India to launch Digital Learning Centers

New Delhi, 11th September, 2015: Ericsson partners with Plan India to launch Community based Digital Learning Centres for young women.

  • Based on Ericsson's global education initiative 'Connect To Learn', the centres aim to provide access to inclusive quality education for young women in India
  • Ericsson to help deploy Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) to create a unique model of community based 'Connected digital learning centers'

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) in collaboration with Plan India today announced the launch of its community based 'Digital Learning Centres' programme for young women living in urban slum clusters of Delhi and NCR.

The Ericsson Digital Learning Centres, set up in collaboration with Plan India, utilise technology solutions to provide education to women in the age group of 15-25 years within their own communities, thereby overcoming the challenge of limited mobility. Three 'Ericsson Digital Learning Centres' are being inaugurated today as part of the Company's 'Connect to Learn' initiative in India. Ericsson plans to set up 12 Digital Learning Centres until the first quarter of 2016.

Manoj Dawane, Head of Technology, Government and Industry Relations, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson India, Manju Khatri, Deputy Director of Education, Government of Delhi and Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, inaugurated the Digital Learning Centre today in the presence of the local community and representatives of Ericsson India and Plan India, the implementing partner for this project.

Speaking on the occasion, Dawane said, "As a leading advocate of Technology for Good, we believe in the transformative potential of ICT. Our partnership with Plan India is based on the recognition of the important link between limited mobility of women in India and their ability to access progressive learning opportunities. By using ICT, we are providing access to learning and education to these young women within their own community. This project will benefit around 15,000 women over the next three years."

Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, added, "Plan India has been implementing programs that engage, equip and enable girls of all ages to acquire adequate skills and knowledge to succeed in life. This innovative partnership will help young women access best in class learning opportunities within their own communities."

In addition to Dwarka, the Company plans to set up Digital Learning Centres in the urban clusters of Holambi Kalan and Rangpuri Pahari as part of this project. The learning modules that are being employed by trainers have been standardised in collaboration with State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Education Department of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and other knowledge platforms. The Centres will also provide tutorial support on subjects like mathematics, science and English. In addition to educational content, the project aims to raise awareness amongst the girls on issues related to their safety and security.

Addressing health on International Youth Day

New Delhi, 12th August, 2015: In 1999, the UN General Assembly designated August 12 as International Youth Day. This day is to celebrate the role of young boys and girls in bringing about change in society and raising awareness on the issues faced by youth around the world.

Plan India's deep engagement with youth in programme interventions has impacted their lives for the better and made them agents of change in their communities.

Adolescents between the ages of 10-19 years make up almost 22% of India's population with a significant number of them affected by various health issues that needs immediate attention.

The Young Health Programme (YHP) started in 2010 in the communities of Madanpur Khadar, Dwarka, Mangolpuri, Holambi Kalan and Badarpur in New Delhi, has been successfully making a meaningful difference to the health and well-being of marginalised and disadvantaged adolescents. In partnership with AstraZeneca, the programme looks to address the information and educational needs for the complex health issues faced by the youth, their hygiene practices and other differential conditions that promote or safeguard against ailments. This programme has been helping young adults make informed decisions to safeguard their health and hence manage a healthy lifestyle.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the youth today is adolescent health and well-being. A baseline study conducted in 2010 using a sample size of 4,500 youths from the five programme areas highlighted the issues. Only 57% of adolescents could identify a condom as a method to prevent HIV. Several held misconceptions about the spread of HIV. The adolescent girls group also provided important insights - 15% of them did not know whether their menstruation had begun and 26.4% were unaware of what happens during periods.

One in eleven adolescents had consumed tobacco in the form of gutka, pan masala, etc., more frequently than cigarettes. 4.9% have consumed alcohol; a significant number of them were exposed to pornography and drugs use was highly prevalent in these areas as well.

Access to youth friendly health services for the communities was a concern prioritised by the programme. The survey also showed that community members preferred to use private healthcare services even though these were often operated by unqualified doctors. This was because the general perception about healthcare services was that it was unaffordable (public healthcare services are free), located at a distance and often overcrowded. A poor attitude towards young people and the lack of female doctors were also noted as issues faced with these services.

Through YHP, 15 Health Information Centres (HICs) were built in the programme communities. With a library, a television showcasing educational and recreational videos, computers for the young people, the HICs offer a safe space for adolescents to hang out and discuss issues faced by them. Here, they not only attend awareness building events but also make constructive friendships, get encouragement and advice from YHP coordinators and even help with school-work.

For the International Youth Day on August 12, 2015, Plan India along with its local NGO partners has organised a variety of activities to celebrate the achievements of its youth members and raise awareness on adolescent health issues.

A street play to encourage participation has been prepared by the peer educators and the young members. Apart from this, a health fair to provide palliative and promotional health has also been planned. For the community children of Badarpur and Madanpur Khadar, a trip to the National Science Centre has been arranged. The aim is to expose them to scientific advancements by Indian scientist inspire them to contribute to the country's development.

Youth being an important part of society, Plan India has worked through the Young Health Programme to address adolescent health and hygiene. On this International Youth Day, Plan India looks to spread the message of the importance of a healthy lifestyle to a wider audience and make a lasting difference in the lives of young adults, their families and communities.

Round Table Discussion on Missing Child Alert (MCA) Project Held in Delhi

New Delhi, 14th July, 2015: According to the National Crime Records Bureau, one lakh children go missing every year in India. Some of these children end up in forced labour or being sexually exploited and abused. Since 2012, Plan has been working in India, Bangladesh and Nepal with children and other organisations to counter the growing concerns of exploitation and abuse of trafficked children. The Missing Child Alert (MCA) project aims to link existing institutions, mechanisms and resources to tackle the phenomenon of cross-border trafficking from a regional perspective.

The project looks to strengthen regional cooperation with multiple stakeholders including state and civil society organisations for an effective and sustainable response against organised human trafficking.

Keeping in accordance with the previous three years, the first MCA II planning meet was organised successfully by Plan India on 14th July, 2015. The round table discussion on Prevention of Cross-border Child Trafficking looked into the issues being faced in India in this regard. The meeting was attended by a group of ten distinguished experts on anti-child and human trafficking, legal, law enforcement, media, child protection, migration, prevention of HIV and sex trafficking, technology and Trafficking in Persons (TIP) from the US Embassy.

The objective of the discussion was to deliberate on an approach and how to strategize the intervention during the MCA II planning and design process.

The experts in attendance contributed with valuable insights and knowledge and shared innovative ideas on how to tackle the issue and the way forward. Some of the key outcomes of the discussion were:

  • A continued focus on cross border intervention to assist the Government.
  • An increased emphasis on the need to address the problems of missing and trafficked children at the national level.
  • As far as geographical area is concerned, if possible, MCA II can potentially expanded to other SAARC countries facing similar issues.
  • MCA II, particularly at the national level, needs to have a strong presence on the ground as opposed to the advocacy approach of the preceding three years. It must also address prevention issues at the community level with various stakeholders e.g. Panchayati Raj Institutions, schools, etc.
  • Technological and digitalisation of training for law enforcement is significant but can only protect children from being trafficked if the government system works in accordance.
  • The project should also focus on system strengthening of various government supporting mechanism, e.g., capacity building of government stakeholders, strengthening the institutions, leveraging technological advancement for better documentation, etc.
  • Working with the Government is one of the basic pre-requirements for such an important programme suggested by all experts which has its own complexity and dynamics. The close coordination of civil society organisations can help strengthen the collective movement of human trafficking.

Representing Plan India were Mohammed Asif, Director, Programme Implementation, Vinayakan Ellath, Senior Programme Manager, HIV and Ashish Damle, Regional Project Manager, MCA. A detailed report on the project will be prepared and shared in the coming months. A similar round table discussion will also be initiated in Bangladesh and Nepal with a common workshop in planned in August, 2015 to develop the framework of MCA II.

Daiichi Sankyo partners with Plan India to open the Arogya Health Clinic

New Delhi, 16th June 2015: Plan India works in some of the most marginalised communities in India that lack even the basic necessities needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One of the biggest challenges for families residing in these communities is access to health services and basic hygiene. To provide access to affordable health services, Plan India recently teamed up with Daiichi Sankyo India Private Limited (DSIN) to launch a functional Arogya Health Clinic in Rangpuri Pahadi in South Delhi.

The clinic is open to the community from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm with four doctors providing their valuable services to the community members. The four member multi-speciality medical team comprises of Dr. L.N. Singh (General Physician), Dr. Reeta Dhingra (Gynaecologist), Dr. Harshvardhan Mehra (Paediatrician) and Dr. Rao (Ophthalmologist).

Employee engagement is one of the strategic pillars of Corporate Partnerships at Plan India and on June 5, 2015, a health camp at Israel Camp was attended by the operations team from Daiichi Sankyo.

To mark the successful launch of the clinic and the partnership with Daiichi Sankyo, Plan India and Bal Vikas Dhara organised an inauguration ceremony on June 16, 2015. Dr. Takahide Nishi (CEO, DSIN) and Mr. Yoshio Uchida (VP, Operations and Management, DSIN) graced the occasion with their presence. Also present were 35 women and 17 children from the community and two members each from Sanitation, Water and Health Departments respectively.

The inaugural ceremony was marked by ribbon cutting by Dr. Nishi. Members of Daiichi Sankyo were warmly welcomed by women from the community and were presented with IEC materials designed by Plan India. This was followed by key highlights being shared by the respective teams. Dr. Rao, Chief Medical Officer, Mahipalpur, also presented his views on the greater demand of health related services in Rangpuri Pahadi and assured the team of sustained linkages with the government health set up and the Arogya Health Clinic.

For effective data management and recording patient's history, the provision of a computer system has been made at the clinic. A unique identity number is provided to every visiting community member for efficient tracking of their health status.

To reiterate messaging towards a healthy lifestyle, the exterior of the clinic has been painted with health related messaging. The interior rooms have been equipped with basic infrastructure facilities like fans, coolers and lighting fixtures, the dressing room has been equipped with two beds, new medical equipment including an incinerator, intravenous stands, stethoscopes and a sphygmomanometer.

The Auxiliary Nurse Midwifery (ANM) room has been stocked with fresh supply of basic medicines. Injectables and contraceptives are also readily available. The doctor's rooms have been furnished to include a separator and examining beds. The toilets for usage by community members and staff have been refurbished and clean drinking water and water storage have also been made available at the clinic.

The Arogya Health Clinic is a model primary health centre providing quality health services in Rangpuri Pahadi, Mahipalpur. The project started on 1st April, 2015, in partnership with Daiichi Sankyo India Pvt. Ltd. and will be implemented by Plan India's partner organisation, Bal Vikas Dhara. The project will engage multiple stakeholders to make it a full-fledged community managed initiative. Plan India recognises the need to make its interventions sustainable and seeks to work in collaboration with the Delhi Government.

Plan India releases "Survive to Thrive and Stories of Change", stories of struggle and success against sex selection and gender discrimination brought alive

New Delhi, 10th April 2015: Plan India launched 'Survive to Thrive' and 'Stories of Change', holistically capturing personal instances and recollections that showcase the most dedicated efforts towards promoting gender equality, inclusion and empowerment of girls in social system at every level. The books were jointly launched by Ms. Preeti Sudan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, Mr. Mark Pierce, Regional Director, Asia Regional Office, Plan International, Ms. Frederika Meijer, Representative, UNFPA India, Ms. Deepa Chandra, Additional. Director General, Doordarshan and Mr. A.R Nanda, Ex Health Secretary, Government of India.

Since 2006, Plan India has been implementing the Let Girls Be Born Project in partnership with communities, NGOs and Government duty bearers. The project seeks to end the practice of female feticide through community awareness building on the declining sex ratio and for the effective implementation of the pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic techniques Act 1994 (PCPNDT). Over the years, the project has touched the lives of more than 9 million women, men, girls and boys across 298 gram panchayats of 12 districts in the states of Delhi, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.

Underlining progress and achievements of Let Girls Be Born project, Ms Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said "Gender discrimination or neglect of girls leading to a decline in the female population as a social phenomenon cannot be elaborated completely in terms of numbers, facts and figures. We have holistically captured the personal instances and recollections that showcase some of the most dedicated efforts towards promoting gender equality, inclusion and empowerment of girls in the societal system at every level".

Ms. Frederika Meijer highlighted global best practices towards promoting gender equality while Mr. Mark Pierce emphasised the significance of 'Because I am a Girl' Campaign for developing countries. Ms. Preeti Sudan talked about the role of community and civil society in promoting Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme recently launched by the Government of India. Ms. Deepa Chandra shared the role of Doordarshan and mass media in promoting gender equality in India. Mr. A.R Nanda spoke on the opportunities and challenges of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign.

Let Girls Be Born project volunteers from Delhi University and participants from the communities also shared their experiences and achievements. A short film on the issue was also screened on the occasion.

Synopsis of the books

'Survive to Thrive'
This photo documentation captures the challenges confronted by Indian girls and women during their lifecycle. Along with highlighting several gender biased practices in the communities, the “Survive to Thrive” report presents on ground actions that Plan India has successfully implemented over the years, and which have contributed to promoting gender equality and addressing gender biased discrimination in families and communities.

'Stories of Change'

The compendium of success stories from the project documents the good practices as compelling stories that indicate the positive shift in the community acceptance of gender equality and celebrating girlhood. Each of the stories is direct outcome of the programme activities and thus demonstrates the effectiveness of the adopted strategy and approach. The purpose is to celebrate the success and explore the possibilities for its replication to enable girls in India flourish and enjoy their full potential.

Because I am a Girl is Plan's global campaign to promote girl’s rights and equip, enable and engage girls of all ages to acquire assets, skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life. 'Let Girls Be Born' (LGBB) is a part of BIAAG campaign. Plan India is working for the right to identity for every girl, as girls are discriminated against even before they are born and even after birth due to gender inequality at every stage of their lives.

Goodyear partners with Plan India to improve the lives of children in Delhi and Mumbai

New Delhi, 4th March, 2015: Goodyear in India has extended its campaign of spreading joy on the road to now also spread joy off the road for many children in New Delhi and Mumbai. The leading tyre manufacturer has partnered with Plan India, a child centered community development organization, to support Plan India's "Early Childhood Care Development Centres" (ECCDs) in both cities.

Goodyear's collaboration with Plan will benefit hundreds of children, who will receive immunizations and have their health monitored regularly. It will also ensure they will get age appropriate nutrition through regular meals each day.

"With growth of infrastructure and development activities in urban areas, there are large numbers of labourers moving to our major cities," said Mr. Rajeev Anand, vice chairman & managing director of Goodyear in India. "In many cases, they come with their families and children from rural areas and reside in temporary housing near the construction sites where it can sometimes be difficult to access services in healthcare and education. We chose to partner with Plan India for this project as they have over 10 years of experience and an excellent record in early childhood care and development approaches for children living in and around construction areas in India."

The ECCDs provide a safe and quality learning environment for the children of construction labourers, along with offering counseling to the parents on ante-natal/post-natal care such as child feeding practices, hygienic living and immunization. The centres also assist parents in admitting their children in government school once they reach the requisite age.

"Early childhood encompasses the period of development from pre-natal through the transition from home or ECCD centre into the early primary grades," said Bhagyashri Dengle, executive director, Plan India. "It includes health, nutrition, education, social science, economics, child protection and social welfare. The ECCDs strives to ensure young children's overall well-being during the early years. Plan aims to improve holistic care for the development of children between 0-6 years at home and in centres by strengthening the government systems and structures as well as building capacities of parents and communities."

About Goodyear in India

Goodyear's presence in India is more than 92 years old, with two tyre plants/companies, one each in Ballabgarh and Aurangabad. In the passenger car segment, Goodyear in India supplies tyres to many of the leading Original Equipment Manufacturers. Goodyear in India has been a pioneer in introducing tubeless radial tyres in this segment. In the farm segment, in India, Goodyear tyres are supplied to all the major tractor companies. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.co.in

Plan International statement on the attack on a school in Pakistan

16th December 2014: We are devastated by the horrific news of the attack on a school in north-west Pakistan which has reportedly resulted in loss of at least 126 lives, most of them children. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families of all those killed and injured, and we express our solidarity with them.

It is tragic that a place of education and its innocent pupils have been targeted in a barbaric act of violence.

School should be a safe sanctuary for children where they can play and learn and just be themselves.

Acts of violence like this demonstrate how children and teachers in some of the most challenging places in the world are facing serious risks to their lives just to access their right to an education.

As a child rights organisation, we believe, every child must be able to go to school and get a quality education without any fear of abuse and violence.

Plan India & Clinic Plus campaign for Girls

Mumbai, 6th May, 2014: Plan India and Clinic Plus join hands to bring a turnaround in the situation of school drop-out of adolescent girls by creating an enabling environment within the community and family.

Clinic Plus through their initiative - 'M Se Maa, Maa se Mazbooti' acknowledges important role a mother plays in her daughter's life. The campaign depicts how a mother educates her daughter requesting for one year extension every time she faces a hurdle. The campaign was launched by stellar exemplars of empowered women themselves Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan.

Initially the programme would be implemented in the four Plan India communities in UP, Ambedkar Nagar; Lucknow; Mirzapur and Pratapgarh districts, to ensure that not only girls are encouraged to join school but also continue their education. The initiative aims to reach out to mothers and aid in building awareness of importance of their daughters’ education, and also strengthening their capacity to support it, by at least one more year.

Launching the campaign Sharmila Tagore and Soha shared moments of their lives where Sharmilaji ensured Soha completed her education and pursue her own aspirations.

Speaking on the occasion, Govind Nihalani, Chairperson, Plan India Board said 'Plan India and Clinic Plus partnership will ensure that the mothers are aware of the crucial role education can play in her daughter's life and help her complete at least secondary education'.

Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said 'Fifty percentage of India's girls do not complete their class tenth. Hence it is critical to make special efforts to ensure that all girls complete their schooling. Education not only provides them with life skill and career opportunities but research has shown that when a girl earns, she invests her income in her children's education thus breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy'.

Plan India is part of Plan International, one of the world’s largest community development organization with a special focus on Children. Plan India support communities throughout the county so that the children have access to their right to healthcare, basic education, healthy environment, protection from abuse and exploitation and participation in decisions that affect their lives. One of the focus areas of Plan is to help girls overcome the disadvantage and discrimination they face in everyday life and as such is committed to educate and impart requisite skill to realize their full potential.

Clinic Plus shampoo one of the leading brands in India continues to play the role of an ally to the mother, helping her in her role as a NURTURER to her child. As a part of the celebration, daughters can make Mother's Day special for their mother by giving a missed call on 099167199671. With a call back mechanism, the daughters can leave a message for their mother. Clinic Plus will then play the daughters' messages to the mothers on Mother's Day.

Amit Trivedi and Kavita Seth rendered heart-warming Clinic Plus anthem to support the cause that brings out relationship between mother and daughter.

Plan India is an Indian NGO working to improve the lives of disadvantaged children, their families and communities through an approach that puts children at the centre of community development. Since 1979, Plan has been working with its project partners to help children access their rights to proper healthcare, basic education, and healthy environment, protection from abuse and exploitation and participation in decisions that affect their lives. Plan encourages children to express their views and be actively involved in improving their communities. Currently Plan India works in 13 states in India, across 5400 communities and has touched the lives of over a million children.

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India's largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods Company, touching the lives of two out of three Indians. HUL's mission is to "add vitality to life" through its presence in over 20 distinct categories in Home & Personal Care Products and Foods & Beverages. The company meets every day needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life.

Plan India and Asian Development Bank collaborative initiative 'Asian Youth Forum 2013 Inaugurated in New Delhi

New Delhi, 30th April, 2013: The first edition of the Asian Youth Forum, co-hosted by Plan India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was inaugurated on 30th April at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, in the presence of Govind Nihalani, Chairperson, Plan India Board; Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India; Maja Cubarrubia, Country Director, Plan Thailand; Chris Morris, Head NGO and Civil Society Centre, ABD; Haidy Ear-Dupuy, Social Development Specialist, ADB. The two-day Forum from April 30 to May 1, 2013, aims to ensure young people have the right and the capacity to participate in matters that impact their lives.

Through this Forum, young participants will be empowered to:

  • Learn and acquire new skills to support their work in their respective communities
  • Contribute towards the sustainable solutions to problems faced by their generation
  • Advocate for the participation and empowerment of young people at an international level

The Youth Forum include intensive training, skill building workshops, and panel discussions on Youth Entrepreneurship, Youth Employment, Gender and Media, Water and Sanitation, to prepare them for their active participation at the Civil Society Program of the ADB Board of Governors Annual Meeting. Here they will be speakers, reactors, and social media reporters.

"The Asian Youth Forum creates the perfect setting for young people to come together to discuss current issues and devise ways to bring about change. It provides space for training and developing capacities of the young participants for advocacy and public participation," said Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India.

Plan India implements programmes that enable adolescent and young girls and boys to be active participants in their community governance and support them to plan and implement actions for community participation and development. "Through this Forum, we hope that the participants will be able to learn, contribute and advocate solutions to issues that young people face today," added Govind Nihalani, Chairperson, Plan India Board.

"The ADB is pleased to have collaborated with civil society partners and especially youth groups to help bring attention to key development issues facing Asia and the Pacific. Concerns on water and sanitation, gender and youth employment, among others, are critical to the youth of today. We hope that the young people will continue to remain active and take up the challenge of creating changes for a better future," said Chris Morris, Head NGO and Civil Society Centre, Public Management, Governance and Participation Division, Regional and Sustainable Development Department, Asian Development Bank.

Plan India and Youth Participation goal

Plan India, a child centered development organisation is working in India since 1979 with the mission to bring lasting change in the life of underprivileged children. Plan works in partnership with grass-root NGOs and government bodies to facilitate poor and marginalised communities to participate in their own development and thus ensure that children enjoy their right to be protected from abuse and exploitation, provided with early childhood care, quality education, optimal healthcare, safe water, healthy environment, and household economic security.

Right to children's participation as active citizen is at the heart of all Plan's programme intervention areas. Plan enables adolescent and young girls and boys to be active participants in their community governance and support them to plan and implement actions for community participation and development. The main objective of child participation is:

  • To build capacity of young adults, particularly girls and women, to organise and express themselves as active citizens
  • To provide space for young adults to monitor the implementation of child rights programming by government and NGOs and recommendations of the UN committee on CRC
  • To create an enabling environment for youth participation at all levels through behaviour change in duty bearers

Plan India currently works across 5,000 communities in eleven states in India and has positively impacted the lives of over a million children and young adults.

Plan India's unveils "Because I am a Girl" Report 2009

Mumbai, September 22, 2009: Plan India unveiled a report "Because I am a Girl" to highlight the key issues faced by the girl child globally and in India. The State of the Girl Child Report 2009 emphasizes on the Girl's Economic Rights and Empowerment. Mr. Govind Nihalani, Chairperson, Governing board, Plan India, Mr. Raj Nooyi, Member, Governing Board, Plan India, Ms Madhabi Puri-Buch, MD & CEO, ICICI prudential, Ms Bhagyashri Dengle Executive Director, Plan India, Mr. Madhu Kannan, MD, BSE were present to grace the event at the prestigious Bombay Stock Exchange the oldest stock exchange in Asia and a symbol of our country's economic growth. The Bombay Stock Exchange has extended their support to the campaign by partnering and hosting this event. To support the cause of the aspirations of the girl child in India eminent personalities Kiran Kher, Manali Vensarkar, Pooja Bedi & Ila Arun joined the occasion. Also present on the occasion eminent industrialist and Member, Governing Board, Plan India, Aarti Kirloskar and her daughter Aditi Kirloskar.

The Because I am a Girl report takes a rights based approach to girl's situations at different stages of their lives and the 2009 report on Girl's Economic Rights and Empowerment highlights the context and life situation of the girls in India. The State of the Girl Child report will be released every year in India till 2015 – the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women.

Through 70 years of work at the grassroots, Plan has always found girls as the most discriminated social group. A major goal of Plan is to fight gender inequality, promote girls rights and support the millions of girls to come out of child poverty.

It is with this in mind that Plan world wide has initiated the "Because I am A Girl" campaign - a campaign that highlights the issues of the girl child and gathers support to empower the girls and hence, a community leading to a better world.

Mr. Raj Nooyi, Member, Governing board, Plan India said, "Across the country, girls face double discrimination of their gender and age, leaving them suffering at the bottom of the social ladder. Girls are denied access to health services and education, and also face extremely high levels of violence, abuse, and harassment. In order for India to accelerate the achievement of our development goals, investments in the development of the girl child are the need of the hour."

He also added, "Plan aims to invest in the Girl Child and bring about a shift in the social attitudes towards the girl child. The programmes at the grass root level are designed to increase girl child participation to secure the benefits of economic growth while breaking inter-generational poverty."

Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, "While there are many more girls in the trap of poverty and injustice in India than ever before, there are many more girls today whose lives have changed because of the good work being done by NGOs, corporates and government. And both these stories need to be told – the stories of problems faced by girls as also the stories of achievements and empowerment of girls. The State of the Girl Child in India Report 2009 seeks to capture both these aspects surrounding girls in India today."

Mr. Madhu Kannan, MD and CEO of the BSE added, "BSE is proud to partner with Plan in helping to raise awareness of these critical issues. India's future is immeasurably brighter because of the sustained efforts of organizations like Plan."

Children discuss HIV/AIDS Bill with parliamentarians

New Delhi, July 9, 2009: Plan India organized an interface between Parliamentarians and Children to voice their opinion on different provisions of the HIV/AIDS Bill specifically on the provisions which aim to mitigate the impact of the epidemic on women & children.

HIV/AIDS affects hundreds of young men, women and children in India. To contain the spread of HIV, the Government of India has made concerted efforts through prevention, awareness, treatment, and care and support programmes. However, stigma and discrimination and violation of human rights is impeding the efforts by various agencies in mitigating the impact of HIV and AIDS among the vulnerable groups especially women and children.

The HIV/AIDS Bill will ensure Human Rights and Universal Access to Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support to the HIV affected.

The interface was conducted in the presence of eminent parliamentarians and dignitaries from Sports and Entertainment industry namely Oscar Fernandes, Ering Ninong, Sanjay Takan, Agatha Sangma, Sushila Triya and Alka Lamba, Nagesh Kukunoor, Virender Sehwag and representatives of the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, "Long-term improvements and change can only be sustained if children are active players in their development, not passive recipients of aid. We believe that long-term improvements and change can only be sustained if children are 'development actors': they participate, voice their opinions, and are listened to and taken seriously, because their opinions count."

She added that this initiative has been taken to let the children voice their rights in front of those who will play a vital role in passing the bill in the parliament. She expressed her gratitude to all who came forward to support Plan's initiative to ensure that the basic rights such as Right to Health Care, Right to Education, Right to Property & Right to Guardianship should be given to HIV/ AIDS affected men, women and children in India.

As per NACO estimates, India has approximately 100000 children below 18 years of age who are infected with HIV. It is estimated that 70,000 children below the age of 15 are infected every year through parent to child transmission. Significantly, the number of children who have either one or both HIV positive parents or who have lost both their parents to HIV/AIDS is steadily increasing.

Plan India is committed to the cause of HIV/AIDS and the programs are implemented for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS with a focus on care, support, and provision of antiretroviral treatment to the children infected and affected with HIV and AIDS. Plan's HIV/AIDS projects are in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In the year 2008 Plan India organized three workshops at different parts of the country with more than fifty national and international NGOs working in the field of HIV/AIDS. The objective of these workshops was to identify issues, gaps, deliberate on strategies and bring recommendations for "HIV and AIDS Prevention and Care Continuum for Women and Children in India". Plan India has also conducted a study on the vulnerability of spouses and children of Intravenous Drug Users (IDU's) in North East Indian states and Punjab.

In 2006, Plan produced a child friendly HIV and AIDS Awareness Kit HAAP Kit) for the children. The kit contains a computer game, animation film, puppetry and comics. This product has received accolades from DFID, United Kingdom and has won the prestigious award – "Manthan Award South Asia 2008 for best e-content for development" and is also being utilized by various national & international NGOs and State AIDS Control Societies for their adolescent health education programs.

Plan India launches "Learn without Fear" in Bihar

Patna, 22nd June 2009: Plan India, a child centered development organization, launched its fifth state level campaign "Learn without Fear" in Bihar. The objective of the campaign is to create an environment which can prevent all forms of violence in schools. This campaign is about preventing all forms of violence against children in schools. It includes corporal punishment, sexual abuse, neglect, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, peer-to-peer violence, youth gangs, use of weapons, and harassment in school and on the journey to and from school.

Plan India launched its nationwide advocacy campaign aimed at preventing violence against children in schools on 20th November 2008 in New Delhi.

In Bihar, Plan India has been working with the children, teachers and government in building awareness on "Safer Schools". In this process Plan India in co-ordination with its partner ADITI were involved in the production of four documentary films - Education, Gender Discrimination & Problems faced in Co Education schools. The children also prepared two plays "AAB ANKUR BOLEGA" & "AISA KAISA BACHPAN", which expressed views of children on safer schools. The plays were based on physical and mental abuse a child goes through in schools.

The "Voices of Children" that highlighted issues of violence in schools were exhibited in the form of comics, cartoons, radio jingles, animation and short films. The key elements of non attendance in schools identified by the children were corporal punishment, bullying and neglect and discrimination. The exhibition was inaugurated in presence of Ramdeo Prasad, Chairman, Child Labour Commission, Bihar, K.P Rammaiah, Secretary, Social Welfare (ST & SC), Govt. of Bihar, Vijoy Prakash, Secretary, Rural Development, Govt. of Bihar, Jitendra Kumar Sinha, District Magistrate, Patna, Ms. Lilly Vishwanathan , Advocacy Manager, Plan India and Mr. Arvind Singh, Executive Director, NIDAN.

To gain more support from different stakeholders such as dignified personalities, educationist, Govt. officials, media a group of 800 – 1000 children will take out rally to support the campaign on 23rd June at Gandhi Maidan.

The representatives from various fields affirmed their support to the campaign by putting pen to a signature campaign against violence in schools. At the national level the signature campaign was kick started by Mr. Anil Kapoor, noted Actor, and Patron of Plan India. The campaign will travel across India to gather support for providing safer learning environment for children.

Ms Lilly Vishwanathan, Advocacy Manager, Plan India added, "The campaign will be actively implemented in Bihar and the objectives set for next three years is to increase awareness among children, teachers, parents, educational administrators and communities at the national, state and local levels on the negative impact of violence on children and their right to learn in safe (violence free) environment in schools."

On the implementation of the campaign, Mr. Arvind Singh, Executive Director, NIDAN added, "In the program areas where Plan India and we are working, Plan India will offer training and support to teachers and communities to help reduce violence and we will work with school authorities and advocates for "Safe schools" in Bihar."

The state level campaign for "Learn without Fear" has been launched in Uttrakhand & Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh & Orissa. The next step is to launch the campaign in Rajasthan.

Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon- "RUN FOR A CAUSE"

Support the Right of the Girl Child to be Born & Survive

Plan India is registered with United Way of Mumbai, who is the official charity partner for this Marathon, to raise awareness about Plan's focus on education and economic empowerment of girls. We would like to invite you to run for our "Lets Girl Be Born (LGBB) ) project under its global campaign Because I Am A Girl (BIAG) aimed to empower the wider community to eliminate sex selection and sex determination at the community level, guaranteeing the right of the girl child to be born & survive.

The marathon will be held in Mumbai on 18th January 2015.

Background

Distance running epitomizes the power of one's dreams and the awareness of one's abilities to realize those dreams. Unlike other competitive sports, it is an intensely personal experience. It gives rise only to one breed - Winners! You are already a winner by just participating and crossing the finish line. The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) epitomizes the spirit of running for a cause.

Wheels beneath Her Wings

Ratna helps her mother sell snacks on the roadside in Jaipur. Although the 18 year old who studies in class 10th in the local government school does this in her spare time, She knew it was only a matter of time before she joined her widowed mother, the sole breadwinner, on a full time basis to augment family income. Ratna would have dropped out of school, had not two Rajasthan based NGOs come into her life. Thanks to these NGOs working to end discrimination against girls. Ratna was given opportunity to change her life through the Women on Wheels (WOW) program.

RUN FOR A CAUSE

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CAB members join together to advocate for safer schools

New Delhi, June 4th, 2009: Members of the Children's Advisory Board presented their initiatives to reduce violence in schools in support of "Learn without fear" campaign. The advisory board comprising of 20 children is supported by Plan India. The members took upon itself to collect voices of children from both government & private schools covering urban & rural areas through signatures. This activity was executed across 7 states of India, Delhi, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa. They also collected inputs on how to have safer schools in form of essay, comics and cartoons.

Also, as part of the signature campaign the board outlined steps that should be taken in order to make school a safe place for children. Along with the eight action points the signatures of collected across the country will be presented to the prime minister and government officials.

Since last six months the CAB members have actively campaigned to advocate on this issue through workshops on child rights in government and private schools. They intend to reach out to more and more children through street play & audio program. To further support the campaign they would also be observing the incidents reported on corporal punishment in print media and will present the findings to stakeholders.

The objective of the "Learn without Fear" campaign is to create an environment which can prevent all forms of violence in schools. It includes corporal punishment, sexual abuse & bullying on the journey to and from school. Plan India launched its nationwide advocacy campaign aimed at preventing violence against children in schools on 20th November 2008 in New Delhi.

Sandhya Bajaj, Member , National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) extended her support to the session and added, "I appreciate the efforts of the members of Children Advisory Board who have set an exemplary before us about issues pertaining to violence in schools. Every child deserves the right to safe schools and I urge the media to become a volunteer partner with children for such initiatives."

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Asif Mohammad, Head of Program, Plan India said, "Children act as ideal ambassadors to engage the target audience for the campaign by working at the grassroots level for their own rights, thereby drawing attention of all stakeholders for their cause. Plan India adopts a child friendly approach which engages children from several government and private schools to raise their voices for creating safer schools."

Children Advisory Board (CAB)

Children's Advisory Board (CAB) is a unique endeavour of Plan India to promote child rights by ensuring participation of children in development program. Children's Advisory Board was first set up in the year 2006 and today comprises of 20 members from different and diverse background in the age group of 12 to 18 years who are working towards meaningfully contributing to developmental programs and promoting child rights by essaying the role of child rights ambassadors.