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Mumbai Adolescent Girls Learning Community’s ‘Charter of Demands’ featured in the Press

Posted 24 April 2019 in EMpower News, Grantee Partner News   |   Share

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The adolescent girls of Mumbai’s Learning Community held a press conference to present their ‘Charter of Demands’ on April 12. The Learning Community capitalized on the election season, hoping to make their voices heard by policy makers and community leaders. In their charter, the girl leaders emphasized their rights to improved access to toilets, playgrounds and an increase in the number of newsstands in their communities.

The Learning Community in Mumbai is in its fifth cycle this year! EMpower organizes and funds initiatives like Learning Communities that bring together grantee partner organizations. By forming a network where learning, new ideas and best practices are shared, adolescent girls are further empowered to enact change in their communities.

The Learning Community in Mumbai is spearheaded by seven organizations: Vacha Charitable Trust (which also acts as a coordinator for the community in Mumbai), Aangan Trust, Akshara Centre, Bright Future India, CORO (Committee of Resource Organization for Mass Programme of Functional Literacy), Stree Mukti Sangathana, Vacha Trust and YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association, Mumbai).

So far, 100 girl leaders of this Learning Community have heightened awareness and pressed for action to enable girls to demand and access safe spaces in the city. For the fifth year in a row, these adolescent girl leaders have organized and led interventions, protests, rallies, mass mobilization and community-driven actions with the overarching goal of equality and freedom for girls in 10 wards of Mumbai.

Importantly, the Learning Community’s ‘Charter of Demands’ was driven and backed by their own research and data. It specifically highlighted measures to ensure safety, health and hygiene, and access to better facilities in three public spaces identified by the adolescent girls – toilets, playgrounds and newspaper stands. The girls conducted a survey anchored in the restrictions connected to these spaces – they reached out to 1140 young girls and women (ages 10 -25) in 35 communities. The survey revealed, among other
findings, that more than 50% of them felt unsafe using community toilets and almost 90% complained about inaccessibility to newsstands in their communities.

In the run up to this press conference, the Learning Community used multiple strategies to reach out to people across Mumbai: meeting councilors of the city’s municipal corporation and local leaders, focus group discussions with community members, formation of pressure groups in communities, a wall painting campaign with a focus on
gender-sensitive messages, community meetings, signature campaigns, flash mobs etc.

We are so happy that this press conference was hugely successful in amplifying the girls’ voices. It received phenomenal coverage and was picked up by 10 newspapers and 2 news channels. The Learning Community is hopeful that its ‘Charter of Demands’ will enable girls and women to start reclaiming these public spaces.

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