Vikalp’s Smiling Daughters project aims to combat issues of gender inequality by enhancing the respect, dignity and value given to girls. We envisage a world where girls are celebrated and encouraged in their endeavours; where being a daughter in Rajasthan is a not a label of shame, but another reason to smile.
Through direct interactions, people’s forums and organizations, girls’ support group and women’s sangathans (large-group meetings), Vikalp’s work integrates all aspects of life that affect girls and women. We work at the micro and macro level, sometimes sitting down with families or community groups in a village setting, at other times advocating with government representatives for more equal leadership structures. Some successful initiatives taken include renaming of baby girls with a positive meaning and preventing child marriages through community engagement. Within the Smiling Daughters program Vikalp also focus on reducing the prevalence of sex selection. Male birth preference remains a huge issue in various parts of India, and the sex ratio of Udaipur city has steadily fallen within the last decade (from 948 girls per 1000 boys to 920 girls at the 2011 census).
Some Highlights of Smiling Daughters in the Last Year
- 6500 people in 1350 families were reached through Muskati Betiyan.
- 42 cases of domestic violence were taken up after referral by local support groups and team members
- 65 child marriages were stopped by Change Makers, Volunteers and Team Members of Muskati Betiyan.
- 16 women leaders contested local elections for positions as Sarpanch and Ward Panch.
- 45 girls from Mavli Block, including 12 child brides, were enrolled in National Open School for Secondary Examination after having been forced to leave school.
- National and International Girl Child Day, National Youth Day and International Womens Day celebrations were attended by hundreds of people.
- 1200 students in 10 schools undertook worskhops and awareness rallies on gender.