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Girl Child Day: Odisha Government Launches ‘Advika’

Sanskriti Airon

14th October 2020

The Odisha Government, on Sunday, launched 'Advika', a new programme for adolescent girls to mark the International Day of Girl Child celebrated across the world with a campaign for girls to amplify their voices and stand up for their rights.

Odisha government launched the ‘Advika’ programme on the International Day of Girl Child (Source: Interview Times)

The programme was launched online by Tukuni Sahu, Minister of Women and Child Development. Adivika is an initiative by the State for developing and empowering adolescent girls between the ages of 10 pocketbooks. The government will implement it through the Anganwadi Centres across the State. Advika contains the Anganwadi pocketbook for adolescents, a multimedia package, Kishori Kalender, and frequently asked questions.

According to Orissa Post, speaking at the launch event, Anu Garg, Principal Secretary of the Department, explained that Advika renewed the State government's stance towards adolescent girls. The programme is about building life skills among girls by exposing them to essential topics for them to deal with the day-to-day challenges of life.

Adolescent girls, especially those out of school, generally come to the Anganwadi Centres to receive their nutrition supplements. Under Advika, all girls will gather at the Anganwadi centre to attend the learning sessions in an enjoyable way. Advika will also be a platform to connect girls to various government welfare programmes.

A 12-month-calendar of sessions under this programme covers adolescent sexual & reproductive health topics, nutrition, safety and well-being, rights and entitlements, gender-based violence, financial literacy, marriage, and relationships. An exciting resource package consisting of short films frequently asked questions and key messages developed to make the sessions interesting for the girls.

As reported by The Indian Express, the secretary also announced that an MIS development to track adolescent girls. Unlike the MCP card (Mother and Child Protection card), there will be a "Kishori Card" to record the BMI, haemoglobin, training sessions, etc. This will help to know the health, nutrition, and safety status of the adolescent girls as a whole.

Field functionaries advised to follow social distancing strictly, and all precautions to prevent COVID and gathering of girls will begin as the situation improves.

According to Interview Times, Sujata Karthikeyan, a commissioner of 'Mission Shakti', mentioned that the extensive network of women self-help groups could play a crucial role in creating an enabling environment for girls to survive and thrive by collective actions to challenge discrimination. She said that the SHG s would be the resource persons in counselling the adolescents, monitoring the dropouts, child marriage, health and hygiene, sanitation, and other protection issues.

Congratulating the State government, Argentina Mattavel Piccin, UNFPA India Representative, in her address said that the programme could play an instrumental role in empowering adolescent girls with life skills and enhanced agency. So that girls are informed and consciously involved in decisions regarding their bodies, their lives, and their world.

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative, highlighted the need for such programmes to promote girls' health and rights and said that the programme aligned with the International girl child day's theme – 'My Voice, Our Equal Future'. She reflected on the two adolescent girls' speeches who raised their voice against discrimination and also inspired others to follow the path.

The country representatives from UNICEF and UNFPA announced that they would provide technical support to the WCD & MS Department and the Government of Odisha in this endeavour.

Aravind Agrawal, Director, ICDS and SW, who spoke on the department's initiatives for the adolescent girls, said that it is a significant phase of life which is the transition from childhood to adulthood, signalling hormone-induced physical changes and psychological challenges. He also talked about having an MIS for the adolescent Girls who will add to the empowerment process, according to The Orissa Post.

The Senior Official from various departments attended the programme: DSWO, DCPO, PO, CDPO cum CMPO, Staffs of One Stop Centres, Family Counselling Centres, District Consultants and Officials from WCD & Mission Shakti department, more than 660 numbers of attendees had logged in, and around 1000 people had attended the webinar.

News Sources: Interview Times, Daily Hunt, The Indian Express, Orissa Post.

Edited by Aayush Lahoti

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