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Tragedies have been dominating the headlines. War and persecution achieved a terrible new milestone this year effective women and children around the world. Millions of girls are still trapped in a cycle of extreme poverty, child marriage and adolescent pregnancy – misfortunes that have a ripple effect across generations.

It is easy to feel helpless. But change is possible.

UNFPA India has seen thousands of examples of smart, courageous, effective and positive change, from girls saving their peers from child marriage, to young people finding never-before solutions to age-old problems.

Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions inspired by real people who are working every day to change the world.

1.     Start

The world’s problems seem so colossal, it can be hard to know where to start. However, sitting and staring at our problems will not lead us anywhere. We can learn from the residents of the village Mani, where women travel for miles to attend Kishori Club (Adolescent Girls’ Club) meeting, that includes taking a boat every time, since going by road and over the bridge takes a lot more time.

2. Work Together

Huge challenges can be overcome with teamwork. That is what villagers proved in their remote communities. Every 15 days, at designated Anganwadi Centres, groups of adolescent girls meet to discuss matters related to social, health and financial empowerment. Leading this are peer educators called Sakhi-Sahelis. From amongst these peer educators, in turn, emerge Cluster Coordinators who help increase the footprint of the movement and project called AAG. Know more

3.     Listen more

As the old saying goes, it is always better to talk less and listen more! Listening not only helps us understand a person’s point of view, but allows us to empathize as well. UNFPA India’s Kishori Club (Adolescent Girl’s Club) is meant to help numerous girls in tribal areas broaden their horizon, by letting them listen to each other’s dreams, wishes and aspirations.

4.     Believe in yourself 

Believe in your ability to change the world. Even a small act can have a snowballing effect, making a huge difference. In a village where many adolescent girls are not even allowed to step out of their homes, Kesar hits the road every day on her scooter, inspiring many other girls with a strong and positive message.

5.     Be a pioneer

Her ability to motivate her friends and lead discussions helped Kalyani become a peer educator from just being a member of Kishori Club (Adolescent Girl’s Club), and then finally being promoted as a Cluster Coordinator. Her hard work combined with leadership skills helped her become a role model for many. Let’s take an inspiration from her life and discover ourselves this 2017.

6.     Be a good friend

Shanti, who walks 10 km daily to attend the meetings at the Kishori Club (Adolescent Girl’s Club), ensures she stops by on the way to meet other adolescent girls from the village and convince them to join the Club. 

7.     Find support in unexpected places

Our society has been predominantly patriarchal since ages. Men like Rama Meena, who firmly believed in keeping his daughters and grand-daughters indoors, are now inspiring change. After interacting with Anganwadi workers, Rama Meena understood the importance of letting a girl child create her own path and allowed his children to enrol themselves in the local Kishori Club (Adolescent Girl’s Club). From being a man who was reluctant to change his mind-set to a man proud of his girls’ achievements, Rama Meena has come a long way.

8.     Don’t give into fear

Manju, married before the age of 18, returned home to continue her education. Expectedly, her decision was opposed by family members from both sides, but she stood firm. A gradual acceptance followed, and soon Manju will finish off her studies and find a job before she returns to her in-lawsIf you fear extreme challenges in your life, remember Manju could have been just sitting inside her home right now, regretting all the steps she couldn’t take for a better life.

9.      Refuse to despair

Versha had to drop out of school after class 10, just like many other girls in India. However, a discussion with Anganwadi workers motivated her to re-join school. Today, she isn’t only studying, but also earning money by stitching clothes. Versha is a great example of overcoming despair with determination.

10.     Stay happy

We all know that hardships are a part of our life. Hardships bring along valuable experience that helps us to grow. If we look around, amidst all the trials and tribulations, we will always find reasons to reasons to feel happy. So smile and spread smiles this 2017!

What are your resolutions for 2017? Share with us.