Youth Advocate, Sandhyakiran Saroj from ERFA partner program, PRATYeK in India addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the impact of COVID and child marriage this month.

Children in India face threats in regards to their standards of living, health, education and justice. ERFA partner program, PRATYeK, has been addressing these issues in India through the formal establishment of Children’s Parliaments.

This year, ERFA is supporting PRATYeK in an exciting initiative, to work with 120 children and youth from marginalized communities to form a “Youth Advocates for Social Harmony (YASH) Children’s Parliament (YCP)”. The parliament adheres to the concept of democracy and sociocracy and follows the principle of being “of, for and by the children”. Through this initiative, young leaders come together in the Children’s Parliament to discuss issues which they face in their daily lives and find solutions themselves. The 120 children and youth are provided free tuition classes according to their school curriculum including support in creative English speaking, math and computer classes.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, it became difficult for students to participate in person at the PRATYeK center. Therefore, an online teaching system was launched and various courses were run including living with COVID-19, Global Goal Keepers and Earth Pro-Activist which enhanced beneficiary learning on Child Rights. All students passed with flying colors and showed tremendous hard work. YASH kids also raised funds during COVID-19 by selling homemade masks.

On World Environment Day, a poster making competition was run by an organization called “Those in Need”. PRATYeK beneficiaries participated and one was awarded 3rd place amongst hundreds of participants. During the last months of extremely difficult times, the YASH participants have created a page on a social media platform to spread awareness about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as human and earth rights and have created associated posters, videos and slogans.

YASH enhances the agency of children and youth to keep duty bearers at various levels of government accountable to the delivery and realisation of all rights for all children with a particular emphasis on the last (excluded/marginalized) child.

Sandhya is from Mumbai and is Prime Minister of YASH. Her address to the UN General Assembly can be viewed here.

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