Todo Bandishen (Break the Chains) is the second collective campaign by girls in the level 2 of our Young Women's Leadership Program. It was started by 31 adolescent girls and young women in 2015 and is still ongoing. Their journey began in January 2015, when the girls received training on issues related to early and forced marriage, and technical training on photography, radio, and filmmaking. After 6 months of training and 1 month of campaign planning, the girls made a film on the issue of early and forced marriage from their perspective in August 2015 with help from trainers from Voices of Women Media, Nepal. The film consists of five stories of five girls, each story representing a different impact of early and forced marriage on girls' lives as they campaigners wanted to show. The campaigners also created many photo stories (converted into a photo book), a radio show, a song, a short play and many slogans to be used for their campaign.
The campaign was formally launched on 13th September 2015 through a formal screening of the film in front of family, community members as well as invited guests which was hosted by the campaigners. Following this, multiple screenings of the film were organized in the communities where the girls come from followed by a lengthy discussion with the community members and multiple home screenings organized in the campaigner's homes with their family, relatives and neighbours. This time the campiagn was also taken beyond these communities to new areas, not only in Delhi but in Bihar, Rajasthan and Gujarat as well. We conducted a total of 22 big screenings, and then went door-to-door for smaller, more personalized, screenings. Through this campaign, the voices of the young girl power leaders have reached thousands of people in many parts of the country.
The Early and Forced Marriage (EFM)Project, within a short period of 2015-16, has been successful in laying the foundations to develop the agency and leadership of girls on the issue by using effective strategies. The underlying premise of feminist principles of being non-hierarchical and non-judgmental gave the impetus to the young girls to shed their inhibitions and seize the opportunity to explore concepts which were hitherto unrecognized by the participants but were subsequently identified as critical dimensions of their lived reality.One of the reasons for their success is the ownership of the project by the participants and the team members that has enabled them to grow together and reflect on all processes to find effective strategies that lead them towards their objectives." - Excerpt from the review of the campaign by an external consultant.
Within a year, we saw a drastic change in the campaigning girls who have emerged as leaders within their communities speaking out for not just themselves but their sisters and friends. They have become confident and have developed leadership skills that help them articulate what they really want and negotiate with society for it. At present, many of them are working together to plan the next phase of the campaign.