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A changemaker for her village: Meet Roshni from India

October 04, 2021

Skill building India

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Roshni, a Grade 9 student enrolled in Room to Read's Girls' Education Program in Chhattisgarh, India, spent a lot of time at home with her family. One day, her mother told her of an upcoming marriage of a girl in their village. Roshni's mother had learned from other parents that the prospective bride was just 15-years-old, the younger sister of one of Roshni's classmates.

Roshni wondered: how could anyone could accept the marriage of child? Has anyone asked the girl how she feels about marriage? Did the girl's parents know that this was a legal offense? 

Wondering what she might do to stop the marriage, Roshni spoke to the child's sister, her friend from school. The sister confided that she felt helpless. There was nothing to be done, she said. The child's parents felt an early marriage was the best choice for the family's financial situation, and the prospective groom's family was eager for a union.

Roshni could not accept that the marriage of a child would move forward without protest or consequence. She sprang into action. 



“Life skills education has equipped me to help my classmates during difficult times. I would like to become a changemaker in my village.”



Roshni arranged to meet with the Sarpanch, their village’s elected representative. With her father by her side in full support, she made her case to the Sarpanch, calling on him to intervene and stop the marriage. But the Sarpanch claimed there was little to be done.

"Child marriage is common in migrant communities," he told her. "The joblessness and poverty inflicted by the pandemic are forcing many parents to marry their children. The families are exploiting lockdown restrictions to conduct low-cost ceremonies secretly. There is nothing we can do."

Roshni was undeterred. She knew that something could be done and she would use her perseverance to find a solution. She called upon her Room to Read social mobilizer, a woman mentor from her own community, for support. Her social mobilizer encouraged Roshni to use her communication and relationship-building skills to connect with other local agencies that could help. She encouraged Roshi to call Childline, a toll-free child helpline number, and the police, with a request to keep her identity confidential. With confidence building, Roshni made the calls.

The police acted swiftly, and informed the local Child Welfare Committee. Together, the police, representatives from Childline and members of the Child Welfare Committee traveled to the house of the girl and informed the parents that a marriage would result in legal consequences. The girl’s parents quickly called off the union. 

Through Room to Read’s life skills sessions, Roshni developed the confidence, perseverance, relationship-building and communication skills to give a fellow adolescent girl the opportunity to continue her education and follow her dreams.

Learn more about Roshni in the video below.


Meet Roshni from India

Together, we can create a more equitable world by supporting girls like Roshni with the opportunity to develop life skills, complete their education and be changemakers for themselves and their communities. 


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