Bhubaneswar: At a time when national and international communities are increasingly recognizing the prevalence of child marriage as a serious problem, both as a violation of girls’ human rights and as an obstacle to key development process, a village in Odisha’s Subarnapur district has set a perfect example by ending this centuries-old evil social practice.
Rugudipali village under Mayurudan gram panchayat in Subarnapur district has been declared as the first ‘Child Marriage Free Village’ of the district, perhaps in the State.
Due to the well-planned and coordinated efforts by the district administration led by Collector Monisha Banerjee, the residents of this remote village came forward to stop the child marriage.
No child marriage took place in the village last one year because of the high-spirited awareness drive by the administration, according to the officials.
The initiatives like sensitisation through home visits, mass awareness rallies and public meetings, counseling to parents about the negative impacts of child marriage proved fruitful in bringing change in the societal mindset of the people towards this evil practice that often lead to early motherhood and subsequently, health complications besides shattering the dreams and aspirations of girls.
The district administration has encouraged large scale participation of various social stakeholders, including school teachers, women self-help groups, Yuba sangha members, anganwadi workers, PRI and ASHA workers in the awareness drive. Besides, the District Action Plan helped convergence with other departments like School and Mass Education, Health and PR institutions.
Timely intervention by authorities and social workers prevented a child marriage in Rugudipali village in October last year, according to sources.
The inspiring story from Subarnapur district came in the backdrop of the Odisha Government’s State Strategic Action Plan (SAP) 2019-24 that aims to end child marriage completely by 2030 in the State.
The Action Plan is in line with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s commitment towards women empowerment.
In Odisha, prevalence of child marriage has reduced substantially. According to official data from the year 2015-16, the prevalence of child marriages among girls in the state was reported to be 21.3 per cent against a national average of 26.8 per cent, whereas for boys the same was at 11 per cent against the national average of 20.3 per cent.
The Department of Women and Child Development along with Mission Shakti recently launched a State Strategic Action Plan (SAP) 2019-24 with the support of UNICEF & UNFPA to accelerate the pace of reduction of child marriage in order to achieve the goal of zero child marriage in the next ten years.
The Strategic Action Plan (SAP) is a comprehensive and time-bound approach to accelerate actions to deal with the complexities of ending child marriage through multi-layered and multi-sectoral intervention involving all stakeholders and coordination across all tiers of governance, synergistic and coordinated efforts by multiple departments.