UNFPA’s Action for Adolescent Girls is a worldwide commitment to prioritize support to at least 12 countries to reach the most marginalized adolescent girls, sexually initiated under circumstances that violate their human rights and jeopardize their education, health and life course. Child marriage and adolescent pregnancy, other than representing a cruel violation of girl’s rights, are key challenges that prevent girls from realizing their potential, reinforce poverty cycles, reduce girl’s access to education and opportunities and could have life-threatening consequences.
UNFPA’s strategy in India worked towards (i) empowering girls with information, skills and support networks; (ii) changing social norms by engaging families and communities to create an enabling environment for girls (iii) strengthening large-scale government systems and services focusing on education and health services for girls and (iv) improving the knowledge and evidence base for empowering girls. UNFPA’s learnings, approaches and evidence-based interventions on child marriage have been transferred to the Rajasthan Government systems, guided by the understanding that the problem cannot be targeted in isolation. UNFPA launched the Action for Adolescent Girls (AAG) initiative in Udaipur district of Rajasthan with support from the United Nations Foundation (UNF). The project design included the creation of girls groups that meet on a fortnightly basis, facilitated by peer educators, who are girls typically the same age or slightly older than the group with whom they are working.
The project was implemented in approximately 600 villages and reached approximately 12,000 -14,000 tribal adolescent girls in the blocks of Salumbar and Kherwada through the the project's implementing partners, Vishakha and Jatan Sansthan organizations. This is approximately twice the project’s originally proposed reach.
In addition, UNFPA supported community mobilization through outreach to families, youth groups and community level events on various issues such as addressing child marriage, promoting education for girls, saying no to dowry and violence. The events included community dialogues, street plays, and cultural shows such as puppet shows. In Rajasthan over 580 such events reaching over 87,000 community members were organized with support from UN Foundation.
UNFPA’s India Country Office, in partnership with implementing partners and the Government of Rajasthan, developed a photo essay project named “Passage to Change”, highlighting the stories of girls enrolled in the programmes, contributing to a quality documentation process. The photo essay project was very well-received and was considered for an exhibition at the UN Secretariat in New York.
UNFPA continues to leverage UN Foundation and UN platforms, events and networks to raise awareness on the challenges and opportunities faced by adolescent girls. In 2015, UNFPA’s coordinator of the Action for Adolescent Girls and the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage participated in the Girl Up Leadership Summit, addressing the prevalence on child marriage, its consequences, its causes, determinants, and solutions.
In addition, UNFPA’s joint efforts with national and civil society partners were shared, to demonstrate the many ways partners are involved to address child marriage, with a focus on the results produced with UN Foundation funding.
The grant also supported UNFPA’s participation in the Expert Group meeting for the “Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!): Implementation Guidance” which took place in Geneva from 12-13th of September 2016. It is expected that the Global AA-HA! Guidance document will provide countries with a basis for developing a coherent national plan on adolescent health, and align the contribution of all relevant stakeholders in planning, implementing and monitoring country-level actions to reflect the priorities outlined in the Global Strategy’s “Survive, Thrive and Transform” response to the health needs of adolescents. The document has been developed in 2016 and will be launched alongside the World Health Assembly in May 2017.
In 2016, a virtual reality film was produced after a series of events were aligned to showcase the film to a captive audience at Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul and the General Assembly special session on refugee.
This project is part of a broader strategy on adolescents and youth through UNFPA’s Action for Adolescent Girls and the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage in 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.