In the last ten years, governments, policymakers, and the general public have paid more attention to issues affecting girls, and there have been more opportunities for girls to have their voices heard.
This year, the Elixir Foundation, UNICEF, and the Gujarat Youth Forum joined forces to commemorate International Day of the Girl, with over 100 children and young people from Ahmedabad taking part.
The programme began with an inaugural address in which Krunal Shah, Program Manager at Elixir Foundation, set the context for the day’s events and the need for immediate action.
The special address was delivered by Moira Dawa, Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships Specialist, UNICEF who said, “Adolescent girls have shown time and time again that given the skills and the opportunities, they can be the changemakers driving progress in their communities. The girls are ready, and it is time for us all to stand accountable and to invest in a future that believes in their agency, leadership and potential.”
In his opening remarks, Madhish Parikh, Presidential Awardee and Founder of Elixir foundation emphasized on the potential of young people in actively contributing towards achieving gender equality along with how we all have a part in standing with girls in the fight for equal opportunities, safer, more peacefuland more stable communities.
The Chief Guest, Parimal Pandya, Joint Secretary, Department of Women and Child, Government of Gujarat said, “To truly celebrate the International Day of the Girl, as a community we need to come together and change the social norm that looks at girls as a burden. We must empower our girls so they can achieve their full potential.” RJ Viraj Bhavsar inspired the audience to be a part of the change by reciting his poem highlighting the value of the girl child.
The day long programme included a panel sessions and workshops with experts with a focus on changing the conversation and public perception of girl and women leaders.
Shikha Shah, a 10th grade youth changemaker, moderated the Trailblazers Talks with Ram Mori, National Award Winner Author; Maitridevi Sisodia, Deputy Collector, Government of Gujarat; and Nikita Opal, Advocate and POSH trainer. Raam Mori stated that today’s Cinderella does not require a prince to change her fate and urged the girls to stand tall and be the voice of change.
Ms Maitridevi Sisodia stated that we must focus on providing better nutrition, opportunities, and financial independence for our girls while breaking down gender roles that no longer serve us. According to Nikita Opal, an advocate and POSH trainer, girls have transformative power, and we must focus on their empowerment so they see themselves as victors rather than victims.
As part of the programme, Monica Yadav, Founder of Respire Experiential Learning, led a workshop on ‘Girls in STEM,’ and Dr Nishchal Bhatt, Chairperson of Adolescent Heath Academy Ahmedabad, led another on mental health.
Mission Abhayam, a city-based NGO dedicated to women’s empowerment through self-defense, also provided basic self-defense training. Chintan Trivedi and Vaibhav Thakkar, two young artists, closed the show with a musical performance. Krunal Shah, Program Manager at Elixir Foundation, delivered the vote of thanks.