Despite the immense progress that has been made in the last 15 years to universalise primary education in India, the state of secondary education remains troublesome, particularly for girls. In Ahmednagar, Maharashtra where we operate, there is much need to advocate for girls’ education amongst Dalit, tribal and nomadic communities, as well as Muslim groups and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Sadly, young girls are often kept out of school to support low-income families, and become vulnerable targets of commercial sex traffickers, who operate heavily in the region. We believe in equal access to education for all, and when women are educated, their whole community benefits.
In 2015, Snehalaya joined hands with Malala Fund for three years running reaching over 30,000 children, their families and teachers and key stakeholders and influencers to promote equality in education. As part of our partnership, we recruited peer mentors, girls aged between 13 and 17 and older role models, who are the children of sex workers, living with HIV/AIDS and/or slum dwellers. As well as involving them in the delivery of our workshops and presentations, we wanted to hear from them how we can promote girls’ education, what issues they face as girls and their solutions to redress the balance in education. It is also really important that they had the opportunity to present their views to change and policy-makers.
Since then we have worked with them, our Snehalaya teams and others to continue to advocate for girls’ education. This includes celebrating Malala Day, 12 July, the Nobel Laureate’s birthday, with activities and awareness-raising. This year, we were extremely fortunate to be joined by 20 interns from UPES Dehradun who worked with our peer mentors to create a series of activities for the children ‘locked in’ in or Balbhavan and Rehab centers. A huge thank you to all of the interns who engaged with our peer mentors and helped them to come up with some innovative ideas, dance moves, interview questions and so much more.
They helped us create two packed weeks of workshops, a music quiz open to all and activities for our beneficiaries. We also shared self-defence videos and interviews and speeches from our girls. Everything we conducted is still available online so you can enjoy our quiz or learn a new skill through one of our recorded workshops, there’s lots to choose from.
Over the weekend of 10 and 11 July, our Balbhavan children celebrated Malala’s birthday with their own day of activities, all organised by our fantastic Malala Peer Mentors. These included games and races, a cooking competition, a cake-making competition and a quiz.
Cooking & cake-making competitions
Each year we celebrate Malala Yousafzai's birthday on Malala Day with a cake. This year our Rehab Center children asked if they could make the cake themselves. Using chocolate, cream, cornflakes and an amazing array of decorations they created some delicious treats. We asked celebrity judge, food blogger & amazing Snehalaya supporter Saee Koranne-Khandekar and our Facebook and Instagram followers to help us out with the judging based on decoration after which our 250 children tasted both cakes to decide their favourite. We collated the scores to decide the winner - the girls' beautiful pink cake stole the prize.