‘By putting our souls into this programme, this has become an outstanding experience’

This closing statement was written and presented at the end of the Her Choice event, by Sumnima Tuladhar, director of CWIN, a pioneer child rights NGO in Nepal and partner of Her Choice alliance member ICDI. 

‘Thank you very much for this opportunity to deliver this closing statement. It has been very intense and a fruitful three days for all of us. ICDI is our long-standing partner – I have known so many of you for a long time. My association with ICDI has a very inspiring history. I have known Nick from the early 90s, who founded ICDI and have been truly inspired ever since.

The Her Choice project is a great success in so many fronts, and all of you deserve a round of applause for the dedication and all the hard work you have put together to leave an impact with innumerable sustainable outcomes as now, the communities and the children have owned this initiative.

The biggest achievement has been the strengthening of agency of the adolescents – they have become socially and economically empowered and have proudly become social influencers. They are the catalysts of change – they have rightfully become the change agents. They have organized themselves in associations, have understood their rights, toxic masculinities, their sexual and reproductive health rights, they have started talking about their sexuality. They now know the reasons, consequences and connotations of traditional and the new manifestations of child marriage. They are strong enough to challenge conventional gender roles and patriarchal mindset which is one of the biggest reasons for violence against girls and for the promotion of child marriage. They have answers to so many challenging and critical issues surrounding child marriage in their respective societies and will continue to become ambassadors to end child marriage.

Through the course of this initiative, the religious leaders, the local political leaders, law-enforcing agencies, police, community leaders and the parents have openly become advocates to stop child marriages. Girls reporting about their marriages, being able to voice their rights and becoming their own protagonists truly inspire us.  There have been so many encouraging evidences – these are one of the indicators for the success of this initiative.

I feel proud, CWIN feels privileged to have a partner like ICDI: I have said this number of times and I sincerely mean it. You guys at ICDI are fabulous. You respect equal partnership and that is becoming rare in these times. It was nice to get introduced to The Hunger Project and its partners and the wonderful work you are doing.

The Her Choice Programme wouldn’t have been a success if all of us were not a close-knit family – each of you putting your soul to this project has made this an outstanding experience. We learnt so much from each other – your struggles have empowered us. We had each other to count on to. The linking and learning events were just awesome. We wish to continue this friendship, this partnership and Insaallah, come together in the near future to take more empowering initiatives to do something substantial during these testing times of the Covid-19 pandemic to make a difference in the lives of the children and young people we work with. We must push ourselves to do better because children deserve better.

A big thank you to the working group for convening an overwhelmingly beautiful event. The Her Choice Bouquet represented our aspirations beautifully. And last but not the least, thank you Doortje for wonderful facilitation.

Thank you so much.’