Empowering the girl child

Empowering the girl child
Educating adolescent girls may perhaps be the only way to put an end to the seemingly never-ending cycle of issues like girl children dropping out of schools, low attendance, low-age of marriage and overall low status of women in the society. Lioness Clubs of Bengaluru have realised this dire need and have successfully kicked off various programmes that would help educate the girl child.

On International Women’s Day recently, the Lioness Clubs reviewed their service activities for the year. Twelve Lioness Clubs stood out for their outstanding services in the area of creating awareness amongst adolescent girls. Lions and Lioness Clubs of Bengaluru are part of the world’s largest service organisation Lions International. They are traditionally known for their services in areas like eye care, health check up camps, blood donation camps etc. However, the awareness campaign that is carried out currently is the first of its kind.

The awareness campaign

The National Curricular Framework-2005 says: “The physiological changes that occur during the adolescence stage have ramifications in the psychological and social aspects of an adolescent’s life. Most adolescents deal with these changes without full knowledge and understanding, which could make them vulnerable to risky situations like sexually transmitted diseases, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and drug and substance abuse”.Lioness clubs of District 317 F have created an awareness programme for adolescent girls in the form of a seminar and have taken this it to over 7,000 students across Bangalore schools.

About 70 schools have been covered so far and more than half of them are rural schools. They target to cover 15,000 girls in a couple of months from now. The programme includes expert-led sessions, Information sharing, video films for educating girl children on the subject, mentoring etc.

The main themes covered during the adolescent camps are life skills and personal development, child rights, health, hygiene and nutrients, gender equality, changes due to adolescent stage, menstrual hygiene, reproductive process in humans, awareness on AIDS, sexual abuse, child trafficking and social awareness.

Besides many urban schools, schools around Kanakapura, Magadi, Nelamangala, and Ramanagar have been beneficiaries so far. Schools in villages such as Huskur, Solur, Doddabasthi, Doddaalahalli, Channapatna and Huchanapalya were some of the rural schools that have already been covered.

The video-based demonstration of health and hygiene during menstruation, tips as to how one should handle in case of sexual abuse etc., were some of the key areas of discussion. Experts who led the sessions encouraged girls to ask more questions by writing them in a piece of paper. The teams spent a good amount of time with the girls and in the end, the girls were found asking numerous questions for which they had no one to go to.

While there have been excellent feedback from the school authorities, many schools have even requested the Lionesses to come back with the same programme yet again.
However, the response from the girl children is said to be even more overwhelming. The highlight of the awareness programme is the distribution of a hand book called – “Kelu Kishori”. This book with all of the above information is handy for ready reference of the girl children. The books have been produced in large numbers and distributed for free in schools during the awareness camps.

Such an educative programme is essential to enhance adolescent girls’ self-esteem and self-confidence to familiarise them with the status and problems related to women. Also, discussion and orientation on health, hygiene, menstruation and related physiological knowledge which are not being covered as part of the regular curriculum, help students to explore a universe beyond their textbooks.

There’s more to it

The Lioness Clubs are also involved in distribution of educational materials to schoolchildren, school adoption, youth exchange and opportunities, information technology, career guidance and students welfare and reading action plan. They have worked in various community projects like eye hospitals, blood banks, cornea grafting speech and hearing center,s old age homes, orphanages, dialysis centers, health activities, artificial limbs distribution, education scholarships and services and other need based innovative service activities. Lions meet the needs of local communities and the world every day because they share a core belief – to serve their community.

The campaign is the brain child of District Chairperson for Lioness Clubs Ln. Arvind Shetty. He is also driving the campaign and has been instrumental in reproducing the handbooks in large quantities. Schools and service organisations willing to conduct such programmes may contact him at avikateel94@yahoo.com.

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