"I founded JAGRITI Youth ...to really dismantle the oppression that children face literally from womb to tomb, as they grow into adulthood." Rema Nanda

Panel Discussion: Spotlight on Progress "Securing the Way to Healthy Adulthood and Leadership for Girls"

Context: This presentation is from one of the 14 "Spotlights on Progress" video-recorded sessions from the Girl Summit 2014, London, United Kingdom (UK). The sessions were organised to share best practice between practitioners, grassroots activists, and government ministers across the issues of female genital mutilation (FGM) (also FGM/C - female genital mutilation/cutting) and child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM). Girl Summit is a project of the Department for International Development (DFID), UK.

Profile of speaker: A featured panelist of this Spotlight session was Rema Nanda, Founder and Trustee, JAGRITI Youth, India, whose presentation was entitled "Lead Together". According to a biography from the Asia Advisory Group website: "Dr. Rema Nanda is a Senior Advisor with The Karuna Fund offering philanthropic guidance to high net-worth individuals and companies interested in India. She manages the JAGRITI Trust, an Indian youth-centric, youth-led initiative for leadership, employment, and health. Previously, Dr. Nanda served as Country Representative, Pathfinder International, India. She ...scaled up two large projects with four state governments including the ...PRACHAR [Promoting Change in Reproductive Behavior] intervention.... As a ...negotiator, Dr. Nanda has implemented partnerships between public and private sectors to achieve interdependent goals.....Her early work improved girl’s literacy and self-sufficiency, and mobilized communities to redress livelihood issues and violence against women in India. Dr. Nanda holds a Doctorate in International Education from the University of Massachusetts, a Certificate in Health and Human Rights from the HSPH [Harvard School of Public Health], and a Certificate in Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management from the Harvard Business School."

Strategy overview: JAGRITI Youth trains boys and girls with life skills so that they can exercise voice, choice, and control as their platform. Youth are encouraged to lead by example, and to mobilise their communities for ending harmful practices.

From the Summit document:
"To accelerate the work of breaking inter-generational, and often interlocking, cycles of gender discrimination, violence and poverty JAGRITI Youth’s training program - LeadTogether - builds and leverages individual and collective leadership of unmarried girls and boys to negotiate, advocate and secure progressive changes for themselves and in their communities.  LeadTogether provides girls and boys with a package of life skills and a platform for young people to lead constructive change. In particular, through strong, supportive youth led groups and peer-to-peer networks, LeadTogether-trained leaders use collective voice and choice to tackle complex problems such as child marriage and sexual harassment. Youth groups also receive developmentally appropriate information about sexual reproductive health and financial literacy for making more informed life altering decisions. Concurrently, LeadTogether sensitizes and encourages community duty bearers ranging from parents, village officials and government officers to engage Youth Leaders and their groups as partners in advancing rights and fulfilling duties. JAGRITI Youth is proud to be building a community of learners and leaders for India’s future."

Lessons that Ms. Nanda offered include:

  • Make use of a positive assets approach, through which young people believe that they are valuable and capable of doing things in their own way in life.
  • "Seed power in the youth" so the young people can make change. Let them decide about issues that need to be addressed. "We are the hands behind their backs, enabling them to move forward."
  • Decentralise accountability. Give young people the skills to work peer-to-peer and to hold the adults in their communities accountable.

"The energy, the passion of young people is already visible and available. What we tend to do is come to them with the usual way of doing business, and, if you are willing to take that risk and go a mile further/ a step further and help them build their capability, trust me, you will see miracles happen because they do step forward and lead the change..." Ms. Nanda shifted from old-style development to social entrepreneurship through working with people different from herself and recommended that others step up to embrace changes with courage and fearlessness, as, she suggested, young people are willing to do.
Overview of this Summit Session: From the Girl Summit summary document: "This spotlight highlighted initiatives that have piloted ideas or taken them to scale with measurable, positive results. From sports and financial literacy to reproductive health education and citizenship, these programmes are empowering girls with the life skills and leadership opportunities necessary for long-term success. Speakers will give specific examples of how their programmes are equipping girls with the right tools during this critical developmental period to deal with economic disparities, violence and harmful practices."

The speakers for this session are:

Dr. Rema Nanda, Founder and Trustee, JAGRITI Youth, India .

Iwalola Akin-Jimoh, Executive Director, Ovie Brume Foundation.

Karen Austrian, Population Council.

Furaha Pascal Karimiko, Moving The Goalposts Coach, Woman Win, Kenya.

Sheepa Hafiza, Director of Gender, Justice, Diversity and Migration, BRAC.

The session is moderated by Mike Thiedke, Director of Public Engagement, Plan International UK.

Footage of this (available below) and other "Spotlights" are available on DFID’s YouTube channel.

The Girl Summit is a project of DFID. Click here and scroll down to see the full list of individuals and organisations committed to working on girls' issues, as well as a list of Girl Summit Charter signatories.

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