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Rinky - Championing the fight against Child Marriage in Pakur, Jharkhand

Updated: Jan 11

Rinky’s training for her volunteer work in her community in Pakur, India, led to her own discoveries about her rights and gender discrimination in her own life.

Rinky has been a youth facilitator with Restless Development in Pakur, India at a project called Pahal (meaning ‘the initiative’) since 202 . PAHAL is a project focused on addressing the issues of child marriage and gender discrimination.

Rinky’s day to day work involves working with children at 3 schools across her local community. Her community is predominately tribal, and it is common for parents to take children out of school around 12-13 years of age to start working in family occupations or to move away to work and earn a wage. The Pahal project seeks to make an impact in this context and change community attitudes towards children’s education and rights.

As part of PAHAL, children are invited to Child and Community Resource Centres (CCRC’s) in the community. In these spaces, Rinky and her team teach the children various skills, educate them about their rights, and talk with them about their futures. Many of the children don’t have access to resources such as computers, so CCRC’s are a place where they can learn things such as basic computer skills. More than this, CCRC’s are a safe place for important conversations about the children’s rights. Rinky and her team are helping children, particular girls, to learn skills to be able to stand up for their rights and make decisions about things such as their future studies, careers, and marriages.

Rinky is passionate about working in the space of gender discrimination and empowering adolescent girls as she herself has been through her own challenges in this arena of life. Coming from a traditional family that functioned under many gender stereotypes, her journey has not been an easy one. Married at a young age, she has been through her own experiences of gender discrimination in her marriage and family, but it wasn’t until she got involved with the program that she was able to properly recognise and respond to these issues in her own life.

After joining Restless Development and undergoing the capacity building training, she grew in her understanding about gender issues and realised that aspects of her experience, such as not being able to do what she wanted for work, not being able to dress how she liked, and not being respected, were experiences of gender discrimination. After her training and work with Restless Development, Rinky is now more aware of gender stereotypes and more confident in communicating assertively about and standing up for her rights.

Having had this personal journey and experience, Rinky is well-placed to speak to others about these issues. From her work with PAHAL she has been able to develop her ability to help children feel comfortable to share about their personal difficulties so that they too can receive the support and skills necessary to deal with these issues in their lives.

Breaking down stereotypes in a community can be difficult. While Rinky thinks this may be one of the biggest challenges in her work with Restless Development, she nonetheless notes a significant change in her community from PAHAL's work already. Only 1.5 years into their work in the community, Rinky has noticed a shifting mindset of parents towards girls’ educations and rights. She says that parents who previously were not prioritising the education of their girls are now wanting to give them the opportunity to continue their education, with many consulting with Rinky and her team as to opportunities for sending their girls to higher education in nearby cities.

PAHAL is a 5-year project. Considering the change that Rinky and her team have seen in their community already, we can only hope for bigger and better things for children in the years and decades to come.

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