Eleven-year old Radhika looks no different from girls her age. She studies in the seventh grade in a nearby community school. She loves to chat and play with friends, study and take care of household chores like looking after her baby sister in her free time.
What sets her apart from many children her age is her outlook in life.
She has a sound understanding of the issues that plagues children in her community. She has learned about the rights of children and is committed to bring change to her community despite her age.
ENDING SILENCE ON ISSUES FACING GIRLS
Radhika’s striking voice stands out in a place that has long silenced girls. She hails from a poor community in the far western region of Nepal where a boy is still preferred over a girl child.
It is not frequent girls finish school and get opportunities to lead and be heard. Marriage is in the cards as early as 15 and parents do not see much in investing on daughters. Many traditional practices hinder the participation of girls.
Despite all the challenges, Radhika has been able to participate in numerous World Vision trainings on: life skills, value education, child protection, and child rights. She uses that knowledge to educate other girls her age and to bring changes in her community.
TAKING ON GENDER INEQUALITY
Radhika loves talking about inequality among girls and boys and challenges the existing norms. She is the oldest of three daughters in her family. Her younger sisters are seven years old and a month old.
“My grandmother scolded my mother for having another baby girl asking her who would take care of her in the future with no boys. I quickly said that I will do that as there is nothing a girl can’t do these days,” Radhika shares.
She knows how women like her mother have been tormented by family members and can no longer remain silent. She surprises her community with her boldness.
But Radhika admits she didn’t have that kind of confidence before.
FINDING HER VOICE
When Radhika was younger she was quite shy and didn’t express her thoughts.
She recalls, “I could barely stand in front of the class and give my views though I felt strongly about certain issues like alcoholism and gender inequality.”
The various World Vision trainings helped her build her confidence and provided her with public speaking skills. As a result, she volunteered to provide sessions on child rights not only to children but women as well.
Her mother, Uma Devi was a participant in one of her orientations in child protection. Uma cannot hide her pride to see her daughter achieve so much at such a young age.
Her father, Raj shares, “I will work hard and do my best to support Radhika and her decisions.”
While many girls her age are busy playing, Radhika is creating awareness on issues of children.
Radhika is often credited with creating an atmosphere to share children’s experiences at home and school. She has been influential in bringing changes in her community. Here’s how: Parents are more aware of their duty towards their children, Children have started keeping their environment clean and practice good hygiene with simple habits like washing hands and Many of her peers have understood the value of education and know about their rights.
Radhika desires to do more for her community in the coming days.
She says, “I plan to write about the social ills that prevent our community from progressing and bring awareness beyond my community.”
Since 2012 World Vision started providing life skills training to girls like Radhika. So far 4,600 children have been benefitted from life skills and value based education training in the far western district of Kailali in Nepal.
Shrestha is a communications Specialist, World Vision International Nepal