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Strengthening civil society collaboration to end child marriage in Rajasthan, India

Girls Not Brides members take a group photo at the workshop on strengthening efforts to end child marriage in Rajasthan, India, in September 2017.

Momentum to end child marriage is building in the state of Rajasthan, India. Activists from over 30 organisations came together in Jaipur on 18-19 September to start forming a civil society coalition to end child marriage and build an understanding of Rajasthan’s recently launched State Strategy and Action Plan for Prevention of Child Marriage.

The workshop, organised by URMUL Trust and Girls Not Brides, brought together a diverse range of activists from seven regions of Rajasthan, as well as government officials, to develop a vision for a child marriage free Rajasthan – one where children lead empowered lives, achieving their full potential in a healthy and enabling environment.

Although child marriage rates in Rajasthan have declined from 52% in 2001 to 32% in 2011, the state still has the highest incidence of girls married before 18 in the country. Between 2008 and 2011, more than 7,200,000 girls were married before the age of 18 years in Rajasthan.

The workshop laid down the foundations for a fruitful collaboration between government and civil society to address Rajasthan’s high child marriage rate. Officials from the Department of Women and Child, including the Commissioner of Women’s Empowerment, who attended part of the event, promised to implement the State Strategy in close collaboration with civil society. Activists were able to raise concerns and make suggestions about the government’s various interventions and programmes.

The meeting was also an opportunity for Girls Not Brides members to build their understanding of what will work to prevent child marriage and start developing their own collective strategy to address child marriage in Rajasthan.

The two-day meeting drew to a close with the formation of a core group and an interim coordinator to take forward the next steps. The group will work in close coordination with Girls not Brides to form a formal alliance and strengthen the movement to end child marriage in Rajasthan.