Dr Ashok Dyalchand, who has been campaigning against child marriage and fighting for equal rights for girls for 40 years, has been chosen by millions of children to be the 2019 Child Rights Hero and recipient of the World’s Children’s Prize, (WCP), known as the “Children’s Nobel Prize” by worldwide media.
Every day, 15,600 girls are subjected to child marriage in India. Girls are forced to quit school and they become slaves in their husband’s home. They risk death if they fall pregnant because their bodies are not ready to give birth to children.
In order to save girls’ lives, raise their status and put an end to child marriage, Ashok and his organization IHMP set up Girls Clubs. Since the organization was founded in 1975, some 50,000 girls in 500 villages have learned about their rights and received Life Skills Education. With knowledge, self-confidence and support from one another, the girls manage to convince their parents not to force them into child marriage, but to let them finish school instead.
When Ashok started his organization, girls in the villages where IHMP works were being married off at an average age of 14 years. Now the average age is 17. The average age of a girl at the birth of her first child has risen to 18. This means that fewer mums and babies are dying in childbirth. The status of girls has also been raised in the villages where Ashok works.
IHMP also educates parents, the police, village councils and social workers from lots of other countries. Ashok fought for the introduction of the law that came into force in India in 1994, prohibiting abortion based on the baby’s sex.