Strategic action plan launched for prevention of child marriage in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: To end child marriage in Odisha, the Department of Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti have launched a State Strategic Action Plan (SAP) with the support of UNICEF and UNFPA.
A conference was organized as part of the launching ceremony in the presence of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPOs) from each block. More than 400 officials of the WCD department were present on the occasion.
Smt. Tukuni Sahu, Hon’ble Minister, Department of Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti, Government of Odisha inaugurated the conference. Among others, Smt. Anu Garg, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti, Government of Odisha, Smt. Sujata R Karthikeyan, IAS, Commissioner-cum-Director, Mission Shakti, Government of Odisha, Shri Aravind Agrawal, IAS, Director, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)& Social Welfare, Government of Odisha, Dr. Deepa Prasad, State Programme Co-ordinator, UNFPA and Smt. Monika Nielsen, Chief of field office, UNICEF, Odisha were also present during this launching ceremony.
Mrs. Tukuni Sahu expressed her concern regarding the relatively high prevalence of child marriage in some districts, saying that there is an urgent need for all possible steps by the government, civil society, international bodies and communities and proactive steps to stop this social Should be raised. Evil that is strongly embedded in social practices.
Smt Anu Garg, Principal Secretary, DWCD emphasised on all actions that are being taken up by the government to prevent this issue. The prevalence of child marriage has reduced substantially but the pace of reduction has to be accelerated to ensure that Odisha is child marriage free by 2030. She emphasised the importance of convergence amongst different departments like police, school and mass education, judiciary, higher education and skill development who have key roles in preventing occurrences of child marriage.
Director DWCD, Shri Aravind Agarwal made the welcome address with the status of child marriage in Odisha, key determinants of child marriage and emphasizing the roles and responsibilities of departmental functionaries especially the newly designated CMPOs in the districts. While all departments and international bodies pledged their commitment to the prevention of child marriage in the state; Smt. Karthikeyan explained the role of SHGs towards ending child marriage.
Dr. Prasad discussed about the child marriage situation in Odisha, Smt. Monika Neilson discussed on the key drivers of Child marriage in Odisha and finally Shri Nityanand Barik, Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti, Government of Odisha gave the vote of thanks.
Around 500 participants including CDPO/CMPOs (Child marriage prohibition officers), Social welfare officers, DCPO (District child protection officers) from all the districts of the state, SHG representatives, representatives from Education, SC/ST, Home department, CSOs, etc. participated in the launching ceremony.
State Strategic Action plan and new rules on prevention of child marriage were also released and an audiovisual spot on child marriage screened during the conference.
DWCD felicitated six girls who said No to child marriage as champions of ending child marriage and CMPOs and DCPOs for outstanding action against child marriage during this conference. Also, key messages on child marriage were released by Tiki Mausi, the mascot of the Department of Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti, Government of Odisha.
The prevalence of child marriages among girls in Odisha was reported to be 21.3 percent against a national average of 26.8, whereas for boys it is only 11% against the national average of 20.3 percent (NFHS-4, 2015-16). Odisha witnessed a decline of nearly 16 and 11 percentage points (between NFHS2005-06 and 2015-16), for girls and boys marrying before the legal ages of 18 and 21 years, respectively. Still, one in five women aged 20-24 years were married by the age of 18 in Odisha.
Child marriage has a significant negative impact on an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and social development, and on education and economic opportunities. Both girls and boys are affected by child marriage, but girls are affected in much larger numbers and with greater intensity.
The State Strategic Action Plan (2019-2024) is a comprehensive and time-bound approach to accelerate actions to deal with the complexities of ending child marriage. The SAP is expected to serve as a “multi-layered and multi-sectoral intervention” that aims at eliminating child marriage. Actions outlined in the strategic focus areas would be implemented with strong linkages among all stakeholders and coordination across all tiers of governance, synergistic and coordinated efforts by multiple departments would be the key to achieving the goal set to end child marriage.

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