Annual philanthropy convening ‘Dasra Philanthropy Week 2019’ was hosted by Dasra, a strategic philanthropy foundation, in New Delhi. It brought the empowerment of India’s 250 million adolescents at the forefront of the discussion between government officials, non-profits, sector experts, foundations and philanthropists.
Through the lens on ‘collaborative action’ with the government, the convening spotlighted on government schemes like Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakaram (RKSK), a report understanding the backlash faced by adolescents girls exercising agency and stakeholders working to empower them.
Effective policy-making for adolescent empowerment
Dr. Ajay Khera, Deputy Commissioner, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, recognized the 250 million adolescents of India as a key cohort and emphasized on the importance of collaboration with the government to enhance their growth potential.
“One of the missing links in the whole adolescent programming is a limited number of datasets. If we try to put all datasets together and generate more evidence, that will help not only in adolescent programs but also in policy advocacy,” Dr Ajay Khera said.
Sunika Kumari, student parliament leader, Quest Alliance, Anandshala community spoke about the crucial role of community-driven interventions to empower adolescents in India. She said, “In my school in Bihar, we were lacking access even to basic facilities such as toilets. It was a huge inconvenience to student especially girls. We decided to take collective action as students and coordinated with authorities to ensure that the toilet is constructed. As a member of student parliament, we have continued this tradition of collective action to resolve challenges related to garbage disposal and increasing participation of young students in school activities.”
Creating strong partnerships with the government for impact at scale
In the panel, ‘Government initiatives for adolescent empowerment’, Dr. Zoya Rizvi, Assistant Commissioner, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare cited examples of effective collaborations with civil society to help the government in formulating and implementing schemes like Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) at district, state, and national level.
Dr. Zoya Rizvi, said, “NGOs, researchers, and academics need to collaborate with the government to equip the frontline health workers who work in the communities with better tools to collect and record reporting data which can be leveraged for creating effective policies and interventions. Such collaborations will support the Adolescent Health Counsellors, Auxiliary Nurse-Midwives (ANMs) and medical officers who are working in government institutions and conducting outreach activities.”
Dasra launched its flagship report ‘Action Reaction: ‘Action Reaction: Understanding and overcoming backlash against girls’ exercise of agency in India’ that further explained ground realities of implementing policies and schemes around adolescent empowerment, and shed light on better understanding the adverse consequences, or backlash, faced by girls who express agency and stakeholders working to empower adolescents.
‘Collaborative Action’ to empower adolescents
Dasra’s learning that large-scale social change can be achieved when non-profit organizations, academics, technical experts, funders, and government officials align on a common agenda to improve specific outcomes, was shared through a report ‘Collaborative Action: Empowering 10to19’ It informed participants about the startup phase of the ’10to19 Adolescents Collaborative’.