As per Unicef data of 2017, Uttar Pradesh is home to the largest population of child brides, with around 36 million. This is a story of a girl Najima from Bhaya Kothar village of Ikauna block in Shravasti district and how she along with her SHG member’s collective action was successful in putting an end to this evil practice.

Shahzadi, Najima’s mother and Ali her father came from a very poor background. Having no source of livelihood, they were dependent on daily wages. Najima was not allowed to step of her house, she accepted this as her fate till the day her mother joined Jind Baba self-help group.

After becoming a part of the self-help group, she started attending the weekly meetings. The women in the SHG offered Najima’s mother an opportunity to let Najima become a part of YWSHG and work. On 15th October 2018, Najima joined Saraswati Young Woman Self Help Group.  For 1 month her mother used to accompany her to the meetings, and later she was allowed to go on her own. Najima started working as a Yuva Leader and attended meetings and workshops. She learned about her rights and entitlements, and that a girl shouldn’t be married before 18 years of age.

Things were going fine with Najima, till her mother fixed her marriage. At that time Najima was only 15 years of age. On objecting for marriage, she was beaten and locked inside her house. Najima managed to escape her house one fine day.

“The first thing that I did was go to the women of a self-help group, I narrated them my whole situation, as I had faith that they would help me. On hearing my case, the SHG members came to my house and persuaded my entire family, by giving them reasons why child marriage is not good. My family agreed and the marriage was stopped.”

The collective action of the members of the SHG, helped Najma to break free from the social barrier and evils of Child marriage. The entire SHG, stood beside her as a support system, to overcome the social resistance. Now, Najima is studying and preparing for Army along with being an active part of her YWSHG.

Ankit and Sara