World Bank Government and UNICEF Engage in Self-Help Groups to End Child Marriage and Teen Pregnancy

Kolkata: The Government of West Bengal in collaboration with UNICEF will form child-friendly sanghas (groups), comprising members of self-help groups, to tackle child marriage and teenage pregnancy in the state, which is the highest in the country.

To end these twin threats, the state government and UNICEF have planned as a pilot project to train 110 child-friendly sanghas over the next six months in 87 blocks across the 23 districts. state, according to a UNICEF statement here.

“This initiative aims to address the issues affecting the lives of SHG members and their family members,” said Vibhu Goel, State Mission Director and CEO of West Bengal State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM), following an organized validation workshop. here Friday.

West Bengal leads in cases of child marriage and teenage pregnancy, according to a National Family Health Survey report.

According to available data, after the National Family Health Survey-5 was conducted in 2019-2020, 41.6% of women aged 20-24 were married when they were teenagers, and 16 .4% of girls in their teens became mothers, according to the report.

In the first phase of the program, sangha members would pledge not to marry off their underage children, Goel said.

The project will also look at improving the health of children and mothers as 70.8% of adolescent girls are anemic in the state.

UNICEF will provide technical support through training and tool development and SRLM will mobilize members.

Highlighting the state government’s success with nearly 100% school enrollment and 98.7% facility deliveries, UNICEF West Bengal Chief Mohammad Mohiuddin said, “Reaching the last mile of development is still a challenge and many innovations have to be used. and we have to do things differently to tackle these social problems.

In view of the recent decision by the government of West Bengal to grant a project of Rs 600 crore to SHGs, UNICEF has partnered with SRLM to utilize the platform and manpower to achieve various goals of development.

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