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Malala Day 2021

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.

Additional cooking and quiz competitions further pitched girls against boys winning a quiz and our cooking competition of noodles and chilli resulting in a draw. This meant the overall result was a draw demonstrating girls and boys have different strengths and have equal contributions to make. Hopefully, Malala is as equally proud of them as we are...

On Monday 12 July we held our inaugural Great Malala Day Music Quiz. As well as providing some brain-teasing for participants, it also showcased our children’s talents. Teams were posed with answering questions related to popular songs performed by our children with further entertainment provide through some flawless dance performances, with a special guest appearance by one of our beneficiaries who recently had her leg amputated. If you missed it, it’s not too late, the full quiz is available on the ppt below! Get your family or friends together and play at home.

Download PPTX • 1029.90MB

You can also view the individual dance performances here.

As part of our regular Malala activities we have been running self-defence activities with girls from our local schools and communities. This year we asked a couple of our Malala Peer Mentrs to video the self-defence moves that Green Tara Project had provided training on a few year's ago. Enabling girls to protect themselves makes the world a safer place and we are grateful that Belle was available for a refresher session to go over the basics again before we recorded the session. You can learn a few potentially life-saving actions to protect yourself in the event of an attack here.

We also used the opportunity to hear from our Balbhavan and Rehab Center girls on their experiences of education during the pandemic and why equality in education and celebrating Malala day is so important to them.

You can also still participate in some of the crafty workshops our UPES team delivered online to our children. Simply click on the image below (all of these beautiful poster designs by our creative Rehab Center girl, Divya) to view the recording and follow the instructions to take part in the activities.

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