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GAC’s girl leaders play central role in decision-making to end child marriage

Posted 11 April 2019 in EMpower News, Grantee Partner News   |   Share

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Six girl leaders from EMpower’s Girls Advisory Council donned the hats of panellists as they interviewed 21 organizations working to end child marriage in Jharkhand. Hosted by the Girls First Fund, the panel review process was facilitated by EMpower in Ranchi between March 16 and 20. The 21 organizations were shortlisted from a larger pool by the Girls First Fund team, followed by the panel review process.

Millions of girls around the world get married before the age of 18 – child marriage is a global concern. It puts the overall health and wellbeing of girls at risk, and deprives girls of opportunities for personal growth and professional development. According to a UNICEF report published in February 2019, one in three of the world’s child brides lives in India. Jharkhand is among the top three states in the country with the highest prevalence of child marriage. Even though data suggests that child marriage is on the decline worldwide, the efforts of locally-led organizations need to be supported so that the on-ground impact can be amplified.

The Girls First Fund is a donor collaborative supported by leading philanthropic organizations and individual philanthropists who have come together to champion community-led efforts so that all girls can live free from child marriage and create their own future. The collaborative focuses on girls, families, and communities because it believes they are in the best position to create lasting, local change and address the causes of child marriage at their roots. The Girls First Fund is the first funding partnership of its size focused on ending child marriage, with grantmaking directed to community-based and locally-focused national organizations (its founding partners include Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, NoVo Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation among others).

After intensive preparation on the first day, the review process began on March 17. While interviewing organizations, the girls focused on understanding their work, ways in which they amplify girls’ voices, the involvement of girls in organizational decision-making, and their monitoring and evaluation strategies.

It was a learning curve for all us and kudos to our young girl leaders – they showed earnestness as panellists and worked dedicatedly to acquaint themselves with the issue of child marriage in the context of Jharkhand. But throughout the process, they never once lost sight of the importance of involving girls at all levels of programmatic design and decision-making.

EMpower strategically invests in putting girls at the center of decision-making and through this partnership, Girls First Fund took the endeavour forward by placing girl leaders in an important and empowering role. Many of the applicant organizations did not hesitate in expressing their happiness on seeing young girl leaders as panellists. This was an innovation we are truly happy to have been a part of! A huge shout out to the Girls First Fund team for giving the girl leaders this platform, creating a space for such positive interactions and letting girls take the lead!

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