7th March 2018

To accomplish Sustainable Development Goal 5 of the United Nations, which is to achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls, Plan India, in partnership with the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD), Government of Uttar Pradesh (UP) launched ‘Bal Vivah: Abhi Naheen, Kabhi Naheen’, a 40 day campaign to re-emphasise the importance of ending child marriage and to promote Child Marriage-free Gram Panchayats in the state.

The campaign was launched by the Dr. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Honourable Cabinet Minister, Women and Child Development, Government of UP, at her office on January 23, 2018. It aims to strengthen the commitment of Panchayat representatives, school children, Government, religious leaders and others to work towards ending child marriage. During the campaign, 127 Panchayat representatives pledged resolutions in their Panchayats to end child marriage and work towards ensuring their village to be child marriage free.

Spreading across five districts in Uttar Pradesh namely, Ambedkar Nagar, Lucknow, Mirzapur, Bhadoi/Sant Ravidas Nagar and Maharajganj and covering 243 Gram Panchayats and 184 schools and colleges, the campaign reached out to a population of over 200,000. The campaign resulted in the prevention of six cases of child marriage. It also garnered support from Mirzapur and Maharajganj district administrations, leading to the inclusion of child marriage as well as the recommendation of the campaign in the agenda of District Child Protection Committee meetings and agreement by the statutory bodies and relevant stakeholders to undergo training on child protection.

Dr. Joshi, in her message for the campaign emphasised upon the collectivisation of efforts as well as coming together of all the line departments. Complimenting Plan India and its partners on organising a successful campaign, she shared, “I am happy to see the results of the campaign. In just a span of 40 days, 127 Panchayats have pledged to end child marriage in their villages. This initiative has a lot of potential and if scaled up in right direction and with the joint partnership of all stakeholders, we can ensure Uttar Pradesh to be a child marriage free state.”

While delivering the key note address, Honourable Minister of State (Independent Charge), Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD), Ms. Swati Singh said, “This issue can only be addressed efficiently if the key stakeholders at the village level work together and create mass awareness on the prohibition of child marriage act and its implications. We would further like to utilise the recommendation collected during the campaign and would ensue that it’s being widely used.”

Other dignitaries present at the event were senior government officials from the DWCD, Panchayati Raj and Education, Members from Child Welfare Committees, Village Child Protection Committees, Gram Pradhans and Gram Panchayats, teachers and students, religious and social leaders and wedding vendors along with Government officials from districts and blocks associated with the campaign.

As a next step, learnings and recommendations from the campaign would be shared with the Honourable Cabinet Minister, Women and Child Development, Government of Uttar Pradesh for developing a comprehensive strategy to address the issue of child marriage in the state.

Plan India has been working towards the holistic development and advancement of girls for more than four decades. It has been implementing impactful and innovative programmes on education, early childhood care, youth employment, household economy and income generation that ensures children, girls and women realise their full potential and also access their rights.

As a leading child rights organisation, Plan India strive to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, thus creating lasting impact. Plan India aims to continue working for girls’ rights with a commitment to impact the lives of 10 million girls by 2020.