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If you have often seen children being exploited and your heart goes out to them; then ever wondered if NGOs like CRY, World Vision, and Childline are enough to handle all these neglected and unwanted waifs? Both girls and boys are taken out of school and made to work and earn money. Their childhoods are snatched away prematurely and they are forced to become adults before their time.
Child In Need Institute (CINI) understood this because they have seen it happen time and again, especially with girl children, who are forced to get married and have children early, even when they are not physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to start families.
To help and monitor vulnerable children – and they mostly seem to belong to the female gender – CINI has developed an app called GPower (Girl Power). GPower was launched as a joint venture between Accenture and CINI last year, after a survey was done on the condition of educational programmes among girls in South 24 Parganas and Murshidabad districts. It has helped save over 200 girls spread across 20 villages, from either being trafficked or being a child marriage victim, reported NDTV.
CINI’s Assistant Director, Dr Indrani Bhattacharya told Networked India, “The girls in GPower are caught in the vicious cycle of vulnerabilities, like school dropout, early marriage, early pregnancy, child labour and trafficking. It starts from birth and they are trapped in a society with socio-cultural and harmful practices, gender-norms and contrasting stages of development, that leaves them powerless to make essential life-choices.”
Saving these girls’ lives through a digital innovation (like the app) with real-time alarm and alerts, and through strengthening the community-based safety net in the family and village itself, could save a society. This is what inspired CINI’s birth.”
Via GPower, community facilitators (CFs) record and monitor the vulnerability of adolescent girls. It also identifies the girls at higher risk ahead of time, to enable timely intervention and tracks the delivery of appropriate services to avoid potentially untoward incidents.
This enables errors to be minimised and streamlines the collection of valuable information, such as details about a girl’s education, protection, health and nutrition. Information from the mobile device is then uploaded to the cloud, and a server-based software uses this to compute a vulnerability index for each girl, in real-time. This, in turn, allows for real-time data analysis.
These insights create a continuous information flow that not only allows tracking of individual cases of vulnerability, but also reveals trends and allows forecast of results. The app-as-a-solution also has links across the government agencies that “provide support for adolescent girls; giving the facilitator a ready view into the services across the four pillars that should be leveraged for each individual to reduce her vulnerability index”, Bhattacharya explained.
She added. “Aggregated data delivers status reports to the facilitator on the uptake of services. These status reports can also be used to uncover issues with specific services and service providers, and support more effective service delivery.”
“At the implementation level, GPower is helping monitor the effectiveness of CFs by measuring their performance and setting benchmarks. Based on this evaluation, necessary training can be provided to CFs to improve their skills, and motivate them to do their jobs better.”
While CINI has had to convince (and often browbeat) parents to let their girls continue to study; most parents have given in and let it happen. They have also not married their girls off too young. And this gives them immense satisfaction, as one of their ‘vulnerable victims’ is now well on her way to becoming an empowered teacher!
This child had been rescued by CINI and re-admitted to school. Bhattacharya recalls, “The panchayat head helped her to get admission without any cost. She is studying in class VII and now she is saying that “Ami abar swapno dekha shuru korechi ar ami bhobissate ekjon teacher hote chai.” (“I have started to see my dream again and I want to be a teacher in future.”)