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Smart Betiyaan - Empowering Women and Girls through the Internet

Smart Betiyaan - Empowering Women and Girls through the Internet
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Two million girls in the age group of 10-19 years in Uttar Pradesh (UP) are married, constituting 71% of the total married people in this age group in the state. Prevalence of child marriage is highest in Shravasti and Balrampur districts of Uttar Pradesh, where it is very common for girls to be married before they reach 18 years of age. 

Smart Betiyaan Project is implemented in partnership with Phia Foundation, FREND and UNICEF. Envisioned with the aim to amplify the voice of the girl child and bring to the mainstream behaviours and stories of courage that challenge the norm of child marriage which is found to be prevalent in the State of UP, particularly in the district of Balrampur and Shravasti. The project piloted in the month of June 2018 where 150 Internet Saathis (75 from each of the two districts) and 1500 adolescent girls actively played a key role to make the videos to bring out stories on positive deviance of child marriage in the rural region of Uttar Pradesh. It involved script writing, video making in bytes & uploading collected videos on weekly basis.

The focus of the initiative has been to identify stories of positive deviance around child marriage and dropouts from school from within the communities. In every community there are certain individuals or groups whose uncommon behaviors and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers, while having access to the same resources and facing similar or worse challenges, such positive deviant behaviours then challenge the prevalent norm. Thus, a community-driven strategy is envisaged leveraging on the digital equity of the Internet Saathis as a medium to empower adolescents to identify and capture positive deviant stories that enables the community to discover these successful behaviors and strategies and therefore promote the adoption of these practices and behaviours by all concerned in the community, in the long term. Thereby helping shift gendered norms. In addition, a digital platform for sharing of these stories as well as adolescent voices will be created and promoted to a larger audience.

Distinct Civil Society Organizations like Vigyan Foundation & Panchsheel Development Trust are extensively working in Balrampur & Shravasti, the respective districts which are considered as the aspirational program areas. Institutions like UNICEF, TATA TRUST & JAI SHIV MEMORIAL came together to foster the belief of eradicating the concept at optimum level.

The selection of protagonists for the films is from ordinary rural settings which the masses can identify. These short films will be used as a tool to cater to the project objectives at different levels. The broader objectives of the initiative are:

  • Adolescents are equipped with skills to identify Positive Deviants within the community

  • Adolescents record and share Positive Deviance learnings from the local context

  • Identified Positive Deviant Behaviours are pushed back into the community.

  • Adolescents are empowered to report violations