A social impact simulation, "Bal Panchayat" was conducted by the City One Initiative in collaboration with CRY (Child Rights and You) India in the month of July this year to spread awareness about child marriage amongst underprivileged children in the rural areas of Rajasthan. This blog will cover imperative aspects of the simulation, from the basics of Panchayat to pedagogy of the training sessions and event execution.
Bal Panchayat in Rajasthan by City One Initiative & CRY India
Don’t make her wear a wedding dress and lead her towards an altar, when she is supposed to be wearing a school uniform and heading to school. Binding children in a matrimonial bond when they should be playing and studying in school, is merely curbing their future aspirations. South Asia is home to the largest number of child brides with more than 40 per cent of the global burden. This means, 1 out of every 5 girls in the world is a victim of Child marriage.
To tackle this situation and spread awareness about the orthodox practice, Bal Panchayat project was commenced by the City One Initiative in collaboration with the Child Rights and You and Mahila Jan Adhikar Samiti in May 2022. The final event was conducted on 8th July in Ajmer (Rajasthan) at DLSA Conference Hall.
A Bal Panchayat is based on the idea of a Gram Panchayat - village level democratic body of the Panchayati Raj System. It gives the children a better understanding around the working of local government while making them aware of the trending issues in their neighbourhood. A key focus is also on the development of communication and analytical skills.
A comprehensive curriculum curated by the City One team to train the children in different dimensions, proved to be effective for their holistic development. These training sessions evaluated the pros and cons of child marriage, personal reflections and the affect it has on a child’s education, health and social outlook via innovative activities. The aim was to impart learning in a fun way so that children imbibe it thoroughly.
"I was married early and I am aware of the hardships that come along, that is why I want to empower fellow girls, educate them and let them do what they want in life without restrictions". -A Student, 18 yrs old
Moreover, The project volunteers had been the leaders of change, helping children clarify their beliefs on child marriage and identify its impact on their youth and education. One such issue is depriving children of education, which not only disrupts their future but also reduces self-confidence. Once the critical problems had been clear to the children, they were given a free reign to come up with plausible solutions through discussion and debate. This enhanced their critical thinking and evaluation. Through the training sessions, children had also been made familiar with the government policies including, "Right to Education Act" and “Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006”.
"Through Bal Panchayat sessions, I got the opportunity to sow seeds for a better future of these children". - Chahat Tailor, Volunteer
After providing a deep understanding of the Gram Panchayat's working and the issue in hand, children were prepared for the final event where they showcased ground realities and personal stories via Nukkad Natak (Stage presentation) and Chart paper presentation. Additionally, Public speaking activities were curated for children to improve their presentation and speaking skills. This reduced their stage fear and amplified their voice and opinions.
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