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As per India Census 2011, there are total 2,13,62,000 adolescents in the age group of 10 to 19 years in the state of Maharashtra. This constitutes to 8.4% of total adolescent population in India. The sex ratio of the adolescent age group in 2011 is 878 girls per 1000 boys. As per the National Family Health Survey (2005 – 2006), 52% of adolescent girls in Maharashtra are anemic. They also lack access to quality healthcare services.
Although India has one of the fastest growing youth populations in the world, its gender disparities pose significant barriers for the future of girls. UNFPA along with our implementation partner SNEHA, under the Adolescent Empowerment Program, is empowering marginalized adolescent girls living in vulnerable communities of Thane (Maharashtra) by enhancing their health, social and economic assets so that they can fulfill their aspirations and exercise their agency to make informed and responsible choices in relation to their health through multiple activities.
The programme is being implemented in four vulnerable communities of Thane Municipal Corporation: Mahatmaphule Nagar, Janki Nagar, Bhaskar Nagar and Waghoba Nagar. The project covers 2000 adolescent girls from these communities
As part of the project a series of activities to engage families and communities were undertaken to build a supportive environment to work with adolescent girls like Mobilization of adolescent girls, parents' workshops, Film screening, Kishori Melawa, Theatre workshops and Adolescent boys’ workshops.
Currently, the focus is to Strengthen Resource Centers: Resource Centers with provision of material on themes related to adolescents, Engaging with families and communities to build supportive environment for working with adolescent girls through through workshops expanding reach to adolescent girls through campaigns like 16 days of activism, National Youth Day and create Change Agents in the society.
Interestingly, the Change Agents have taken up community awareness initiatives like Safety Audit of their respective areas. From the safety audit, it was inferred that girls find spaces like toilets, cigarette stalls and alcohol shops unsafe. It was also noted that even crematoriums (shamshan) were marked as unsafe spaces, as they were dark and isolated, making it easier for men to harass girls. In the other locations, girls stated that they felt unsafe due to the presence of men who frequently loiter outside small shops and toilets in groups, whistling at the girls and often trying to touch them inappropriately.
Watch the video to know more about this journey till now.