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The inclusion, representation, and empowerment of women and girl children have been an enduring priority for Bal Raksha Bharat, a well-known child rights non-government organisation (NGO). The occasion of Women’s Day 2024 has provided the teams at Bal Raksha Bharat an opportunity to reflect upon their efforts to empower women and girls across the country. Women’s Day celebrations were held with great pride, acknowledging the variety of strategic initiatives taken by the NGO that are transforming lives everywhere.

Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment

The organisation has, by leveraging its efforts and programmes in education, health, livelihood, child protection, promoted gender equality and women’s empowerment. For example, Bal Raksha Bharat is an active and passionate member of the Technical Advisory Committee to strengthen the MAMI Care Pathway, which will improve the nutrition outcomes of acute malnutrition in infants less than six months. In 2023, the organisation also contributed to the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct for the Readymade garment sector. Through this initiative, it aims to address the issues of women workers in the industry, a fact that was reiterated during its Women’s Day 2024 celebrations.

Supporting women and girls in humanitarian crises

In a humanitarian crisis, one of the most effective ways one can support women and girl children is by providing them providing relief, recovery, and resilience interventions. This ensures that they are kept safe and are able to stay with their families and loved ones, and therefore can maintain their morale. Underscoring the importance of this, the organisation’s Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) approach was implemented successfully after the floods in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Odisha. This ensured that there was greater accountability to children, especially girls, through transparent communication, child safeguarding, and delivery of key thematic messages. Affected families were also provided various support, including cash assistance, livelihood access, and shelter. These initiatives emphasised women-headed households and pregnant and lactating women.

Empowering women and girls participation

It is not enough to provide aid and access to resources – girl children must be empowered to become strong independent women, by inculcating in them a sense of purpose. For example, Bal Raksha Bharat has facilitated the formation and functioning of the Children’s Council (Bal Parishad), which is a tool to institutionalize child participation. In partnership with the Union Ministry of Finance, Bal Raksha Bharat has submitted evidence-based budgetary recommendations for children, especially girls, to strengthen outlays towards children. In India’s G20 2023 Presidency, the organisation contributed to the Working Group on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment of Civil 203.

Leveraging the power of education

Bal Raksha Bharat supported the education of girls from marginalized communities, especially those affected by disasters, conflicts, and poverty. Ensuring the continuation of the classroom experience has enabled girls to maintain their trajectory towards growth and fulfilment. In addition, the organisation’s teams have provided access to quality learning opportunities, scholarships, life skills training, and safe spaces for girls to learn and grow.

Improving health and nutrition outcomes for women and girls

Bal Raksha Bharat implemented health and nutrition programmes to improve the well-being of women and girls, especially pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, and children under five. They provided essential health services, counselling, awareness, and referrals, as well as promoted healthy behaviours and practices among families and communities.

Strengthening child protection systems for women and girls

Bal Raksha Bharat worked to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, exploitation, and neglect of women and girls, especially those in vulnerable situations such as child labour, child marriage, trafficking, and street children. They supported the implementation of child protection policies and programs, provided legal aid and psychosocial support, and engaged with children, families, and communities to raise awareness and advocate for child rights.

Building resilience and livelihoods for women and girls

Bal Raksha Bharat helped women and girls to cope with the impacts of climate change, disasters, and poverty, by enhancing their resilience and livelihoods. They supported women and girls to access social protection schemes, financial inclusion, skill development, and income generation opportunities, as well as to participate in decision-making and leadership roles.

Women’s Day 2024, therefore marked a key milestone for the organisation. The occasion of Women’s Day celebrations saw Bal Raksha Bharat affirm commitment to gender equality and empowering women and girls to thrive and reach their potential.

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