Mumbai, Friday, March 3: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Kiawah Trust, and Dasra today launched the “10to19: Dasra Adolescents Collaborative” to empower more than five million adolescents in India by 2021.
Launched during Dasra Philanthropy Week 2017, the new collaborative will reach out to girls and boys between ages 10-19 years and will work directly with adolescents to help girls stay in school; delay their age at marriage; improve awareness about gender-based violence, nutrition, menstrual hygiene, reproductive rights; increase employment opportunities; and improve decision-making skills.
Announcing the launch of the Dasra Adolescents Collaborative, Xerses Sidhwa, director, Health, USAID/India, said: “We believe that there is no greater investment than our youth. When adolescents have access to health services, education, and employment opportunities, they make better choices for themselves, they live longer, and they participate more fully in society.”
With 250 million adolescents, India has the largest youth population in the world. Yet the issues and challenges they face on a daily basis carry implications beyond their level of understanding. Only 47 percent of girls enroll in secondary school, out of which 18 percent of girls drop out even before they complete secondary school. India also ranks highest globally in adolescent pregnancies, with 12 percent of pregnancies among girls ages 15-19. Early pregnancy and child birth has significant consequences on health, social well-being, and economic opportunities for young mothers and their children.
Speaking on supporting the new collaborative, Lynne Smitham, co-founder, Kiawah Trust, said: “Our vision is very simple. We would like every girl to have an education, to be healthy and to be safe, have skills, have a choice about her life and the ability to make those choices.”
Shailja Mehta, chief of party for the Adolescents Collaborative, Dasra, added: “The collaborative is our answer to the question of what it will take to create more and better impact for India’s millions of adolescents. We hope that it’s an initiative that the entire sector can get behind, and thus it was critical for us to ensure that it was co-created with a wide range of stakeholders and partners.”
The Dasra Adolescents Collaborative builds upon and expands the efforts of the highly successful Girl Alliance. In 2013, USAID, Kiawah Trust and Piramal Foundation supported Dasra to launch the Dasra Girl Alliance, a $14 million, multi-year initiative. In just three years, the alliance created a network of more than 200 civil society organizations and was able to leverage more than $20 million dollars in funding. The alliance supports a myriad of interventions that help girls stay in school, delay their age at marriage, and improve women and girls’ awareness about gender-based violence, nutrition, menstrual hygiene, and reproductive rights. Funded by USAID and Kiawah Trust, a family foundation based in the U.K., the Dasra Adolescents Collaborative has also received support from strategic funders like Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).
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