October 11, 2019

New Delhi, October 11, 2019: Plan India’s Girl Changemakers from 10 states in India stepped into the roles of Ambassadors and High Commissioners from 22 Diplomatic Missions today to mark the International Day of the Girl Child (IDG). The IDG Diplomatic Missions takeovers is a multi-stakeholder collaboration between Plan India and the Delegation of the European Union to India, actively supported by the participating Diplomatic Missions from Australia, Belgium, Slovakia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Finland, New Zealand, Germany, Israel, Poland, Slovenia, Mexico, Lithuania, Latvia, Ecuador, Sweden, Bulgaria, Argentina and Switzerland. This is the third year that Plan India and Diplomatic Missions have partnered for IDG – a UN-declared international observance day to support greater opportunities for girls and awareness of gender discrimination they endure worldwide.

Taking senior positions reinforced the need to provide equal opportunities for girls and young women to demonstrate their potential to make decisions and ensure that all girls can ‘Learn’, ‘Lead’, ‘Decide’ and ‘Thrive’ in a healthy, happy and safe environment, and that their voices are heard, and problems are addressed.
The Girl Changemakers are from Plan-supported communities, representing 10 Indian states: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Odisha, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand. Selected based on detailed analysis of their leadership abilities and commitment towards achieving girls’ rights in their community, they bring forth their stories of courage and their unequivocal commitment to the larger movement of girls’ rights and leadership. On the occasion, girls were provided an opportunity to share their unique perspectives at the national level, and actively participate in the day-to-day operations of Embassies and High Commissioners.

The Takeovers also extended to corporates, government offices, media and local governance bodies. Girl Changemakers from communities supported by Plan India took over 270 Gram Panchayats across the nation. This initiative brought attention to the need to ensure equal power, freedom and representation for girls and women. Through these takeovers, the Girl Changemakers asserted their rights to be heard and seen.

Every year, on 11th October, girls from Plan-supported communities take over positions of power and significance, demonstrating their potential to lead the way into the future championing girls’ voice, power and leadership to achieve gender under the ‘Girls Get Equal’ campaign which is a bold new global initiative that calls for increased investment in girls’ power, activism and leadership. As part of the takeovers today, Plan India and the Diplomatic Missions also initiated a digital pledge. The pledge serves as a call to action for the audience that is encouraged to show support for the cause by pledging to do their part so that #GirlsGetEqual.

Mr. Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India speaking on behalf of all the 22 Diplomatic Missions said, “Gender equality is both a matter of justice and a smart investment towards a more equitable and inclusive society. The European Union is a strong supporter of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and women empowerment. We work closely with India and other partners around the world to foster equal opportunities for women and girls. I hope that the takeovers will help to break stereotypes and to encourage girls to follow their dreams, to lead and to realise their full potential”

Ms. Anuja Bansal, Executive Director, Plan India, said, “Gender inequality is a global issue that affects men and women in every country. Opportunities for girls and young women to be heard at a high level are few and far between. They are vastly underrepresented in leadership roles across the globe. Girls’ Takeovers provide an opportunity for girls and young women to step up to take positions of power and speak for themselves and the changes they want to see. The platform is an opportunity to highlight significant issues in their communities in a meaningful way with a view to create real change.

We hope to ensure that young women feel that they are represented and what they have to say truly matters. It also encourages girls to find confidence in their own abilities – to envision themselves rightfully as future leaders”, she added.

Girl Changemaker Jyothi, from Telangana, who had the opportunity to be part of this initiative said, “Lack of awareness among parents and community on child related issues is one of the major gaps in achieving equal opportunities.” As Youth Advocate for Girls Advocacy Alliance, a Plan India Initiative, she believes that equal opportunities are essential to reduce gender disparity. She focusses on issues concerning girls in multiple forums. She further said, “My experience during the Embassy of Switzerland takeover has helped me understand that the world is so much beyond what we already know or have access to and understand. I am grateful to Plan India for giving me the opportunity and will go back even more motivated to work towards the cause and empower girls in my community.”

Girl Changemaker Ruby from Delhi took over as Radio Jockey for Radio City said, “It was a great experience to take over the role of RJ Ginnie.” As a Champion of Change from Plan India’s Safer Cities for Girls programme that works to build safer and inclusive cities for girls and young women, she believes that engaging adolescents is the best way to bring about lasting change.

Globally, Girls Takeovers took place across 60 countries with over 1,000 girls taking charge. Girls took over and broke stereotypes by taking significant positions and voicing their opinions against discrimination, harassment and inequality. The Girl Changemakers, unanimously, sent out a strong message on the urgent need for girls and young women to have equal rights to education, health, socio-economic and political participation. They also called upon their peers and those in power to raise their voice to support girls ‘rights.
Achieving gender equality is one of the Global Goals (SDG 5) agreed upon by world leaders in 2015, which promises to transform the world by 2030. It is time for equal, fair and just world. Initiatives like the Girls’ Takeover by Plan India that are aligned with SDG 5, envision a gender-equal world free from discrimination, harassment and violence.

1 UNDP Human Development Indices and Indicators – 2018 Statistical update ; 2 UNDP Human Development Indices and Indicators – 2018 Statistical update; 3 National Family Health Survey IV;4 Niti Ayog SDG India Index baseline 2018 report

What the Gender Stats say…

  • Only 11.6% women representatives in the parliament
  • Only 39 % females aged 25 and above acquire some secondary education
  • 26% of women aged between 18-29 years were married before they turned 18

Editor’s Note

Plan India

Plan India is a nationally registered not for profit organisation striving to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, thus creating a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable and excluded children and their communities. Since 1979, Plan India and its partners have improved the lives of millions of children and young people by enabling them access to protection, quality education and healthcare services, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.

Plan India is a member of the Plan International Federation, an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International is active in more than 70 countries.

Girls Get Equal

Girls Get Equal is the global campaign supported by Plan International, championing girls’ voice, power and leadership to achieve gender equality. We are demanding equal power, freedom and representation for girls and young women. Launched in 64 countries and counting, Girls Get Equal is about ensuring every girl and young woman has power over her own life and can shape the world around her.

Delegation of European Union to India

For over 55 years, the EU and India have worked together to reduce poverty, prevent disasters, expand trade, and promote joint research and innovation, amongst others in areas of water, health, energy and societal challenges in general. More information at: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/india
The EU is deeply committed to the implementation of all SDGs not only in Europe and India but all over the world, and the EU is working actively with various partners, including the Indian government, to achieve the SDGs globally and locally. SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment is particularly critical for the EU and for India. Amongst various projects and initiatives, the EU delegation to India has been participating in Girls’ Takeovers with Plan India since 2016.