Almost half of India’s 1.25 billion people are aged under 25, making it the youngest na-tion in the world. This can be India’s biggest asset if the energies of the youth are chan-nelised in the right direction.

The government has made efforts to ensure that its youth are healthy, educated and skilled through a number of innovative schemes. Particular efforts are made to ensure ed-ucation is available to marginalised communities and girls. However, inequitable gender norms, early/forced marriage, engagement in sibling care, poor delivery of education, and lack of a safe and secure environment in schools, community and at home prevent girls from fulfilling their full potential. Girls’ voices are unheard, they have very low aspira-tions and don’t have the courage to take decisions for themselves and pursue life opportu-nities.

As per a UNICEF report, in India, one in three (34 per cent) adolescent girls (aged 15-19) who are married or in union have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence by their husband or partner. Among these, more than one in 10 (13 per cent) have experi-enced sexual violence by their partner. A recent study conducted in six Indian states by Save the Children, reveals that due to lack of safe spaces like school, work place and markets, many bright girls are forced to drop out of school. They do not pursue higher education and restrict themselves from engaging in decent work due to fear, and force themselves to remain inside their homes.

We believe empowered women and girls are able to transform themselves and others, make decisions in every dimension of their lives, hold institutions accountable, shape the choices that are on offer, and believe they are entitled to.

The solution to many of these problems lies in empowering the girls and working with communities and the public education system to make it more welcoming. Born out of experiencing these statistics first hand and driven by the desires of strong community leaders to create change in India starting with Meerut. PankhRise Foundation is commit-ted to implement Girl Power Project Through GPP, we work to tackle the basic problems that girls face and create collectives of girls, bringing together 10-15 adolescent girls in selected schools, to provide them support and empower them by building their leadership skills. This helps them to acquire skills, knowledge, experience and confidence, and of course have fun by expressing themselves. These opportunities help them to break the si-lence, reflect, think logically, critically review issues, challenge deep-rooted gender and patriarchal norms, seek solidarity and emerge as effective agents of change who go to ed-ucate and help other girls to be empowered.