Wisdom in childhood is a rare delectation. One either expects children to be passive followers being ignored and bullied or just spending their days of innocence like infants. However, there also are children like Payal Jangid, a teenager from Hinsla (a village in Rajasthan), who not only did wonders for herself but also changed the lives of the children around her. Payal, has achieved a lot with her perseverance and awareness about child rights.
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan had started an initiative called the ‘Bal Mitra Gram (BMG)’. A BMG is a village which eradicates child labour and ensures their enrolment in school. The most integral part of this concept is the participation of the children themselves which helps in constructing a bridge between themselves and the rest of the community. The idea behind this is to ensure the protection of rights of children through engagement with and involvement of the villagers, gram panchayat and the local administration. As a part of this model, a Bal Panchayat (children’s council) was also set-up and Payal got elected to the post Pradhan(Chief) of this Bal Panchayat.
As the Bal Pradhan, Payal organised a lot of field activities to empower the children and women of her village. Payal vociferously fought against child marriage and the ‘Ghunghat Pratha’, a tradition which mandates women to cover their face with a veil. Her efforts started bearing visible results within a year. Eventually, child marriage was completely eradicated from Hinsla. This was a big victory for Payal.
In 2013, a delegation from Sweden reviewed her work and they were so impressed by it that they chose her as a jury member for the World’s Children’s Prize.
According to even the most conservative official figures, there are 4.9 million child labourers in the age group of 5-14 in India itself, and the Human Rights Watch estimates that there are about 15 million in bonded labour across the world. Amidst all this, Payal’s story acts as a silver lining and keeps hope alive.