LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 3pm

Anti-Child Marriage Campaign Strong Contender For Capam Innovations Awards

Pic: BernamaPic: BernamaPUTRAJAYA: Aiming to totally eradicate child marriages among boys and girls in India's Madhya Pradesh state, the Lado Campaign has become a beacon of hope for the country, which is ranked sixth among world's top ten countries with high child marriage rates.

Kalpana Srivastava, Principal Secretary, Technical Education & Skills Development Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh, said the campaign, which has been selected as a finalist for the 2016 Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (Capam) International Innovations Awards (IIA), aimed to eradicate the issue through early intervention.

"Child marriage is an epidemic that needs to be eradicated, as it leaves physical, physiological and emotional scars on its victim for a lifetime and this problem like any other epidemic should be given priority attention," she told Bernama after the project was presented to the jury panel, here today.

According to India's Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, child marriage is defined as marriage to girls under 18 years and boys under 21 years.

Initiated in February 2013, the Lado Campaign has successfully prevented over 81,724 child marriages in the state, through counselling of the families involved with police intervention being the last resort. It engaged over four million of the 16 million population as core members.

India's National Family Health Survey 2015-16 that was conducted recently shows a remarkable decline of 43.3 per cent in child marriages, as compared to the 2005-06 survey.

Srivastava said the Lado Campaign, which means Beloved Child in Hindi, focused on improving communication channels, skills training, media advocacy and capacity building among stakeholders, including wedding service providers.

She added that the programme also had named over 3,000 local children as brand ambassadors to the campaign, consisting of those who have either escaped or were saved from their own child marriages.

"They are the biggest torch-bearers. They go to school, talk to the community and the villagers, and say no to child marriages," she said, adding that the Lado Campaign had successfully outreached all 51 districts in the state.

The initiative under India's Department of Women & Child Development is one of the three finalists of the 2016 IIA under the Citizen-Focused Innovation category.

The IIA is being held in conjunction with the 2016 Capam biennial conference at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here from Aug 18 to 20.

The winners of the awards will be announced at the Capam Presidential Dinner on Aug 20.

Capam was established in 1994 to facilitate the sharing of information and best practices between public administrations of Commonwealth countries, in addition to promoting good governance in the government.