Standing up for GirlsBy Manjeri Mridula Narayan
“I want to grow up to be a Civil Servant and serve my community,” asserts Sudha, a World Vision sponsored child in India. This bubbly 14-year-old is already leading change in her community for women and girls, inspired by World Vision’s Child Sponsorship programme.
Sudha’s parents moved to the bustling city life over 20 years ago to earn a slightly higher income than they would earn in the village. Her father earns a meagre income of about US$6 per day at a clothing store in the marketplace, while her mother is a homemaker. When Sudha first became a sponsored child, she was only 6 years old. She remembers her very first activity as a sponsored child was attending a children’s group meeting in her community.
At the very start, Sudha used to think to herself – ‘what can I achieve on my own? Or what can I achieve being a girl?’ But as she kept learning about her rights, she became increasingly confident as each day passed. She began speaking openly and expressing her thoughts easily. “Previously I used to feel uncomfortable speaking out loud, but not anymore. I learnt this from the children's parliament. Over there, we had to learn to share our thoughts on various issues related to children. I had to speak in front of nearly 120 children at the children’s parliament and that empowered me,” says Sudha.
At the children’s parliament, Sudha learnt about the issues that women and girls face in their community. When Anjali, a girl from her community, began working in a factory during the pandemic, Sudha and the Child Protection Unit in the community immediately visited her home and counselled her parents to stop sending her to work and help her continue her education. Soon, Anjali’s parents realised that Anjali’s education was being affected and sent her back to school.
Sudha explains her passion, saying, “After I joined the children’s group and children’s parliament, I realised there are so many people out there who need help – not just me.” She aims to empower women and girls with knowledge about their rights, so that they can live empowered lives.