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Young Leader Advocates to End Child Marriage in Rural India

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Rise Up

Highlights

Meet Heera Devi, a Rise Up leader from Rajasthan, India who is determined to put an end to child marriage in her community. With Rise Up’s support, Heera is advocating for improved implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act by ensuring the appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers to enforce the law at a local level.

Since 2009, PHI’s Rise Up has partnered with women, girls and allies who are transforming their communities and countries as part of a global movement for justice and equity. At the heart of the organization is Rise Up’s powerful network of local leaders advocating for the rights and wellbeing of women, girls and gender non-conforming people.

In 2006, India passed the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, but according to the 2021 National Family Survey of Rajasthan, more than 25 percent of girls were still married before the age of 18.

Propelled by her experience and struggle, Heera Devi, a Rise Up leader from Rajasthan, India, is determined to put an end to child marriage in her community. Heera’s dream of pursuing an education was put on hold at the age of twelve—the year she got married. She was forced to drop out of school to work on her in-laws’ farm and soon became pregnant with her first child. Heera eventually resumed attending school but didn’t graduate due to her new responsibilities as a wife and mother.

Headshot of Heera
I want people to understand that child marriage ruins the life of a girl and their dreams… Education is very important and child marriage leads girls to drop out from their studies and their self-confidence is lost. Heera Devi

Rise Up Leader from Rajasthan, India

With training and support from Rise Up, Heera plans to advocate for improved implementation of this law, by ensuring the appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers who can enforce the law at a local level. She will carry out her advocacy through her work as a Senior Field Worker at Urmul Setu Sansthan, an organization dedicated to empowering women and children living in rural India. She is also currently facilitating and promoting village level vocational training for girls on stitching, embroidery, and handicraft items so that girls can become financially independent.

My dream is to make my community child-marriage free, and that every girl gets the opportunity to complete her education and have livelihood options so that she is not dependent on anyone. Heera Devi

Rise Up Leader from Rajasthan, India


A version of this story first appeared in a Rise Up newsletter.

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