To mark the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th, 2023, ‘BIKALPA: Alternatives to Child, Early, and Forced Marriage’ was organized by Street Child on October 10, 2023, in collaboration with Janaki Women Awareness Society and Global Shapers Kathmandu, and hosted by the British Council.
The event was structured around insightful discussions and a documentary screening. The British Ambassador to Nepal, Rob Fenn, delivered an opening remark on women’s and girls’ empowerment. Additionally, Nirijana Bhatta, the National Coordinator of Girls Not Brides Nepal, delivered a speech addressing the importance of the cause. “We have made an international commitment to end child marriage by 2030. In order to deliver on Nepal’s commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the Government of Nepal has issued the National Strategy for Ending Child Marriage-2072, and after federalisation, work is being done to modify it and make it suitable for the federal framework. This should be done soon, and Girls Not Brides are in contact and working in cooperation with related government agencies,” said Nirijana.
The program continued with a panel session featuring notable individuals, including government representatives from local and provincial levels in Madhesh Province, a dedicated youth activist, and a representative from Save the Children Nepal. These panelists included Dev Kumari Khatri, Chief of Social Welfare Division/Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, Madhesh Province; Gita Chaudhary, Mayor of Surunga Municipality, Saptari district; Jhamkeshwor Ojha, Policy Support Officer at Save The Children, Nepal (Bardibas, Mahottari), and former Gender Focal Person at the Ministry of Women, Children, Youth, and Sports, Madhesh Province; Bishnu Bhandari, Program Manager at Janaki Women Awareness Society, and Shruti Tiwari, Campaign Coordinator at Kayapalat, Janakpu. The discussions centered on addressing child marriage and finding solutions. The discussions were focused on addressing child marriage and finding solutions. Subsequently, a documentary on child marriage directed by filmmaker Tim Rockel was screened to provide further insights into the issue and its consequences.
The event concluded with closing remarks delivered by Gita Chaudhary, the local-level mayor representing Surunga Municipality, which is recognized as the First Child Marriage-Free Municipality in Madhesh Pradesh. She emphasized the necessity of collective efforts in promoting the well-being of girls and combatting child, early, and forced marriages.