Freedom for girls in India

Thanks to Viva supporters, we raised £30,000 for our Christmas Match Appeal to bring new hope and freedom to girls who face violence, harassment, sexual exploitation and abuse because of their gender.

In India, the ‘Dare to be different’ mentoring programme run by our partner networks is turning around the lives of hundreds of girls.

Girls like Riya in Bihar state: “When people said anything bad about me it would impact me very badly. But I have learned that, with low self-esteem, I was going nowhere in my life. The mentoring has given me skills to overcome different issues in my life, and I am more able to share them with other people. I now know how to protect myself, and I would like to change the lives of other girls too.”

Devesh Lal, Viva India’s Network Consultant (pictured), says, “In slums, girls cannot go to the toilet safely, and usually have to go outside, where they are vulnerable to abuse. Although there are policies in place to prevent this happening, they are not implemented in reality. Viva India is running a child protection training programme in schools to change attitudes and actions.” 

Around 1,200 girls have been helped through ‘Dare to be different’, with 100 mentors trained. At present 265 girls are being mentored in three cities. Devesh says, “We help to improve girls’ self-esteem, understand about their rights and enable them to be confident in taking part in decisions that affect their lives. As a result we’ve seen family relationships restored and girls getting better grades at school. Hope has replaced hopelessness.”