Bhubaneswar: Today, the International Day of the Girl was celebrated worldwide with an annual campaign with girls to amplify their voices and stand up for their rights. This year, under the theme, “My voice, our equal future”.
On the occasion of the International Day of Girl Child 2020, the Department of Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti, Government of Odisha launched Advika, a new programme for the adolescent girls of the state.
The programme was launched online by Tukuni Sahu, Minister Women and Child Development. Adivika, the programme is an initiative of the State for the development and empowerment of adolescent girls between the ages of 10 and 19 years and will be implemented through the Anganwadi centres across the state.
The Advika contains the Anganwadi Pocket Book, Pocket book for Adolescents, Multimedia Package, Kishori Kalender and Frequently Asked Questions. She also mentioned different the initiative’s that has been already implemented by the department. She mentioned that girls are the goddess on earth. We should respect, love and care them.
Speaking at the launch event, Ms. Anu Garg, Principal Secretary of the Department explained that Advika was a renewed commitment of the State government towards the adolescent girls. The programme is about building life skills among girls by exposing them to topics that are essential for them to deal with the day to day challenges of life. Adolescent girls, especially those out of school, generally come to the Anganwadi Centres to receive their nutrition supplements. Under Advika, all girls will gather at the Anganwadi centre to attend the learning sessions through an enjoyable way. Advika will also be a platform to connect girls to various government welfare programmes.
A 12 months calendar of sessions is designed covering topics of Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health, nutrition, safety and well-being, rights and entitlements, gender-based violence, financial literacy, marriage and relationship. An interesting resource package consisting of short films frequently asked questions and key messages have been developed to make the sessions interesting for the girls.
She also announced that a MIS to be developed for the tracking of Adolescent girls. Unlike the MCP card (Mother and Child protection card), there will be “Kishori Card” which will record the BMI, Haemoglobin, sessions of training undertaken etc. This will help to know the health, nutrition and safety status of the adolescent girls in whole.
This will reach to the grass root by the department’s officials at the districts-DCPOs and DSWOs, CDPO etc.
Field functionaries have been advised to strictly follow social distancing and all precautions to prevent COVID and gathering of girls will begin as the situation improves.
Sujata Karthikeyan, Commissioner Mission Shakti mentioned that the large network of the women self-help groups can play a crucial role in creating an enabling environment for girls to survive and thrive by collective actions to challenge discrimination. She told that the SHG s will be the resource persons in Counselling the adolescents, Monitoring the dropouts, child marriage, Health and hygiene, sanitation and other protection issues.
WSHS are to be trained and equipped to support the initiative “Advika.”
Congratulating the State government, Argentina Mattavel Piccin, UNFPA India Representative, in her address said that the programme can play an instrumental role in empowering adolescent girls with life skills and enhanced agency so that girls are informed and consciously involved in decisions regarding their bodies, their lives and their world.
Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque UNICEF Representative highlighted the need for such programmes to promote health and rights of girls and said that the programme aligned with the International girl child days theme – My Voice, Our Equal Future. She reflected on the speech given by the two adolescent girls who raised their voice against discrimination and also inspire others to follow the path.
Both the country representatives from UNICEF and UNFPA announced that they will provide technical support to the WCD & MS Department and the Govt of Odisha in this endeavour.
The special speakers were Chanchala Pujari and Subhalaxmi Sethy, are the adolescent girls who raised their voices against discrimination as they were rescued from child marriage and presently pursuing their studies and inspiring the youths to raise voice against this social evil-Child Marriage.
The two more releases were done along with Advika, they are of Annual Report 2019 on Prevention of Child Marriage and a short video on “Domestic Violence”.
The department will continue a week-long social media campaign spreading the awareness with Tiki Mausi and others.
The Welcome address and context setting done by Aravind Agrawal, Director, ICDS and SW, who spoke on the initiatives taken in the department for the adolescent girls. He spoke on this is a very important phase of life which is transition from childhood to adulthood signalling hormone induced physical changes and psychological challenges.
He also told about to have an MIS for the adolescent Girls which will add to the empowerment process of her.
The Vote of thanks was given by Bithica Swain, Deputy Secretary, Women Development section. The State team of UNICEF and UNFPA especially, Monica Nielsen, Dr. Deepa Prasad, Neha and Manish Kumar who supported Department in developing the materials for the Advika and organise the webinar.
The Programme was attended by the Senior Official From Line departments, Officials from District – DSWO, DCPO, PO, CDPO cum CMPO, Staffs of One Stop Centres, Family Counselling Centres, District Consultants and Officials from WCD & Mission Shakti department, more than 660 numbers of attendees have logged in and around 1000 people have attended the webinar.