This video was originally published by UNICEF UK.
Girl empowerment groups in India are teaching adolescent girls how to stand up for their rights and say no to the rigid beliefs that govern their lives, leaving them vulnerable to early marriage and early pregnancy.
Rukma is the coordinator of one of these groups. She teaches young women about health, hygiene and empowerment. Last year, she helped 13-year-old Anusaya avoid the marriage her parents had planned for her.
Rukma is one of the many volunteers of the Deepshikha programme. Launched by UNICEF in 2008, Deepshikha works to bring education and empowerment to adolescent girls in the state of Maharashtra in order to ensure their increased participation in the decisions that affect them and their peers.
So far, 2,200 groups have been created across the state, reaching more than 50,000 adolescent girls, preventing 280 forced marriages and sending 1,003 girls back to school!
Watch the video above to find out how Deepshikha helps girls like Anusaya avoid child marriage.
In the time it has taken to read this article 10 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds