The Asia Regional office of ICRW had the honor of hosting Her Majesty, Mathilde, the Queen of the Belgians, today at one of its project sites in New Delhi, India. Her Majesty was greeted by Dr. Sarah Kambou, President of ICRW, Dr. Ravi Verma, Asia Regional Director, and local program stakeholders and organization partners.
The visit was organized at a community center in Dakshinpuri, New Delhi, to meet the young participants of Plan-It Girls. Plan-It Girls is a program for adolescent girls in grades 9 and 11 of government schools in New Delhi as well as two rural districts in Jharkhand, India. The goal of the program is to build the agency of adolescent girls and promote gender equality at the local level through a curriculum based on gender-integrated life-skills and employability skills.
Her Majesty is a prominent spokesperson for the rights and welfare of women and girls. As a member of ICRW’s Leadership Council, she has been a steady supporter of the work done worldwide by ICRW.
“We are very grateful for Her Majesty’s advocacy on behalf of adolescent girls,” said Dr. Kambou. “Since 2012, she has been a member of ICRW’s Leadership Council, and in 2013, she invited us to lead a roundtable on adolescent girls in crisis at her embassy in Washington. We are pleased to have been able to help provide the evidence needed to support her efforts through our research.”
The young girls and boys from the program performed a song, O Ri Chiraiya, to welcome Her Majesty and presented a skit, AAGHAZH: The Beginning. The skit revolved around the challenges faced by adolescents due to restrictive gender norms within the home and community, and how programs such as Plan-It Girls are enabling them to navigate these spaces with a greater degree of freedom.
The performance by girls and boys was followed by small group discussion with Her Majesty.
“ICRW and its partners are engaged to empower adolescent girls and enhance their economic value and employability through innovative and comprehensive programming such as Plan-It Girls,” said Dr. Verma. “We believe that girls can be truly empowered only when they begin to aspire in unconventional ways moving away from prevailing gender stereotypes, and have the ability and necessary support to realize those dreams.”