29th January, 2020

Hyderabad, January 29, 2020: Over 130 children from across 10 states will come together to participate, to express their dream, aspirations and ideas on gender equality as Plan India hosts its second edition of National Children Literary Festival in Hyderabad from 29th-31st January, 2020. The festival aims at providing children with a platform for child-led advocacy with educationists, policy makers, teachers, writers, story-tellers, and publishers to promote quality education, joyful classroom learning and gender equality in children’s literature.

Given the steady decline in children’s reading habits and the fact that most children’s books and literature are seen as propagating gender and other social stereotypes, the three-day literary festival would also provide a platform for children, teachers, educationists and authors to influence and advocate with key stakeholders to publish low cost, gender-sensitive and socially inclusive children’s books and stories.

Children Literary festival (CLF) is Plan India’s initiative to encourage children to rediscover the joy of reading and reimaging gender in children’s literature, including textbooks, stories and imagery. As the first of its kind in the city, the literary festival for children will provide an excellent avenue for creativity, imagination and joyful exchange of ideas between children from different states. Additionally, there will be about 100 delegates representing key stakeholder groups including development workers, storytellers, children’s book publishers, teachers, educationalists and policy makers.

Plan India is supporting NITI Aayog’s ongoing efforts to bring in an overall transformation of the districts leading to the rise of India in the Human Development Index ranking as well as Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore until 2020, Plan India as part of the SoI commits its support through technical and thematic assistance, assessing and building the capacity of the stakeholders, aiding in the monitoring of the implementation of the district level action plans and engaging the civil society to steer issue-based research.

Since last two months, over 100,000 children from ten Plan India states participated in the regional and state level editions including Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana where they read schoolbooks, newspapers, poetry and stories to their peers, teachers and parents, enhancing their interest in reading and improving the quality of their education. Storytelling and writing chaupals (community spaces) enabled children to write gender positive and gender transformative stories. Workshops were also conducted at multiple levels on gender sensitisation, communication for development and media tools and techniques (e.g. writing, arts, comics, photography) to help children address development issues in their families, schools, villages and communities.

Speaking at the event, Mohammed Asif, Executive Director, Plan India said, “We are happy to see the participation and enthusiasm of the children from different states. Coinciding with the five years of government’s flagship initiative Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, this year’s Children Literary Festival aims at promoting interest in reading and generating awareness around gender stereotypes. We hope to help children identify, on their own, the gender representation in what they read. By means of the Children’s Literary Festival, we hope to train girls and boys to be able change the way gender is portrayed in books and create a gender-neutral world, expressing the same by various other forms of art.”

Sharing her experience on the National workshop, Preeti, a member of Plan India’s Children’s Club, said “I was not at all familiar with the terms gender equality and inclusion, but during the workshop, I got an understanding and now will promote it in our monthly meetings with children. I also learned the value of reading. I wish that there could be many more interesting books in my school library which will benefit both boys and girls.”

This year’s CLF at Hyderabad will enable and engage children to learn about gender equality and the significance of playing the central role in ensuring that girls and boys are equally able to learn, lead, decide and thrive. The Festival will promote quality education with a focussed approach to understanding the importance of gender equality, how to bring gender transformation and the appropriate representation of girls and young women.

The children will be encouraged to use creative media tools like story writing, drawing, painting, singing, theatre, pottery, etc. to create awareness around the issue. They will present their ideas of establishing gender equality in their communities using audio-visual presentation, and exploring traditional art forms like folk art, folk songs, drama, and poems, writing, story-telling and more. The writings of children from the First Edition of CLF held in Lucknow in 2018 will also be released.

In the first-year edition of the CLF, children celebrated gender equality at schools and several block levels during which they actively participated in reading, internalising the gender concept and learnt to communicate their thoughts through ‘Gender, Creative Writing and Art’ workshops.

The most commonly used tools were story writing, drawing, painting, and puppetry – different types of puppets, folk art, folk songs, drama, and poems. This year, a few other tools will be explored that include audio visuals, photos, collages, and comic strips to name a few. This will help them craft their expressions in the form of their dreams and aspirations for themselves, their family, home, school and community and beyond.

About Plan India

Plan India is a nationally registered NGO 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 NGO 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.