Working with children is always amazing. Not only because they are impressionable, but because they are so receptive. They welcome new ideas with open arms and then find the greatest joy in implementing those ideas. Breakthrough’s joy was greater on getting to hear some stories of change that came out of the Taaron Ki Toli program that we started in 4 districts of Haryana.
Taaron ki Toli is a network of youth clubs created by Breakthrough across 150 government schools in Haryana. The aim of these youth clubs is to influence young minds to change gender-based discrimination and ensure an equal society. It creates a platform where students between the ages of 10 and 14 years learn self-awareness and develop skills that facilitate action around gender and rights in their lives, schools and communities.
It has been 3 years since we started the program and there have been many inspiring stories that we have received from the community. Both girls and boys have told us that they understand gender discrimination and how patriarchy plays its role. Many children reported that they noticed and understood gender discrimination that was happening at their homes between them and their siblings. They pointed it out to their parents and, in many cases, there was an improvement in the situation. Girls have told us that they felt more empowered and encouraged to pursue studies, plan careers, and make their own choices like what to wear etc.
While children told us how Taaron Ki Toli helped them change their thinking with regards to gender, we felt that their parents needed to be involved in this change too. So, to involve parents a bit more with our messages, we started an IVR radio series. IVR radio essentially means mobile radio, wherein a person can call on a particular number to listen to radio. In the series that we created, the protagonist Santo, is a strong, independent minded college girl from Haryana. She talks to her younger brother Amit about various situations and issues related to gender. We also show Amit’s transformative journey as he learns from Taaron Ki Toli class in School. There are other characters as well like Santo and Amit’s cousins Tarun and Rakhi. Here is one episode of Taaron Ki Toli in which we have a small bite of one of our TKT trainers, Roki, from Rohtak. Roki shares a real life story of change that was brought about because of the children who were a part of the Taaron Ki Toli program.
After Haryana, we are now looking at Uttar Pradesh to extend this change. We want to start the Taaron Ki Toli program in schools in Uttar Pradesh as well, to empower 2,00,000 girls. And for that, we would invite all of you to join and support us in this much needed initiative. Any amount you contribute will help us ensure more and more go and remain in school, and are not victims of early marriage.