Bhubaneswar youth discuss SRHR, menstrual health, domestic violence and more in an engaging youth festival


Odisha Prime: Bhubaneswar, USAID joined representatives from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the National Health Mission and the Odisha State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights to celebrate International Day of the Girl at a local youth festival, Baatein Unlocked. The festival was centered around the theme of International Day of the Girl 2022 “Our Time is Now: Our Rights, Our Future,” and brought together more than 200 young people, government representatives, development partners, and community-led organizations at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) to celebrate and recognize the power of youth and the importance of creating enabling environments for young people, particularly girls.

Baatein Unlocked is a youth-led movement supported by the U.S. government, through USAID, to enable young people to realize their full potential by making informed and responsible decisions for their health and well-being. Implemented by Purpose, a social impact agency, the movement engaged with youth from diverse communities, sexual orientations, and interest areas, reaching approximately 7 million young people through mixed-media campaigns in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, and Jharkhand. In Odisha, the campaign worked with 50 youth leaders from five tribal districts to develop their leadership skills and improve their understanding of issues that impact their health. The leaders have gone on to form their own Baatein Unlocked youth groups, where they can initiate conversations with their peers in their communities.

Baatein Unlocked Youth Festival featured conversations around topics that matter to youth populations, including early and forced marriage, access to higher education, issues related to their health, domestic violence, migration-related vulnerabilities, and climate change. The event deployed creative ways to share messages, such as engaging shadow puppeteer and artist TapuMohrana to use art and design to tackle sensitive issues related to gender and sexual and reproductive health.   Over a two-day workshop, students from KISS worked with Tapu to build puppets and create stories, giving voice to their experiences and perspectives on SRHR. A youth representative from KISS shared, “The workshop was a fun learning opportunity for us and encouraged us to speak more openly and creatively about what SRHR means for us. Working together with the artist and other young people also helped us build greater empathy for my fellow young people and understand the challenges that they are facing”.

Sangita Patel, USAID/India’s Health Office Director, said, “As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of International Day of the Girl, USAID underscores our commitment to partnering with girls, their families, their schools and their societies to help them gain access to skills and resources to reach their full potential. Festivals such as Baatein Unlocked are important to educate and engage youth on issues that affect their daily lives and their futures.”

Commenting on the festival, Dr.Somesh Kumar, Country Director, Jhpiego India, said, “Baatein Unlocked, the youth-led movement anchored by USAID’s MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash project and led by Jhpiego is helping young people reach their full potential, lead healthy, productive lives, and provide an enabling environment for adolescent and youth-friendly health services. It recognizes the importance of strong, multi-sectoral collaboration to respond to young people’s unmet family planning and reproductive health needs, particularly vulnerable youth populations”.

“This is a movement to ensure that young people have a stronger collective voice and their needs and aspirations are met through a responsive, equitable and dignified healthcare systems both at the local and national level. Our goal is to accentuate meaningful youth participation through multi-sectorial collaboration” spoke NayanChakravarty, Chief of Party, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash at the event.

The event was attended by Dr.Zoya Ali Rizvi, Deputy Commissioner, Adolescent Health Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India; Dr.Brundha D, IAS Mission Director, National Health Mission, Odisha; Smt. MandakiniKar, Chairperson, Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR), Odisha; and Ms.Sangita Patel, Director of USAID/India’s Health Office.

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