Breakthrough & Vodafone Foundation conclude #selfies4school campaign on the eve of the International Day of the Girl Child

Web News Wire

10/10/2014

The rock band Indian Ocean’s concert at the Select City Walk in New Delhi brought the curtains down on the hugely popular #Selfies4School campaign launched by Breakthrough and Vodafone Foundation. The campaign organised over three cities in three weeks– on the ground and online logged over 5800 selfies, far outstripping the initial target of 2500 selfies to help keep 25000 girls in school. Vodafone Foundation, which is funding the education of girls through the NGO Educate Girls have decided to match the pledge of 5800 selfies received from across India to send 58000 girls to school.

Speaking at the culmination event organized at the Select City Walk, Saket, Breakthrough’s Vice President and Country Director Sonali Khan called the success of the campaign a resounding endorsement of the commitment of people across India to keeping girls in school longer to avert early marriage. “We are proud to be partner stakeholders like UNFPA and Vodafone Foundation in creating a united movement to fight early marriage of girls. Breakthrough’s campaigning skills and ability to mobilise action across multiple platforms – online and offline was ably complemented by the commitment shown by Vodafone Foundation to ensure girls don’t lose out on education. We believe this campaign has helped built momentum around conversations and action towards keeping girls in school longer and saying no to early marriage,” adds Sonali.

Commenting on the resounding success of the #Selfies4schoolcampaign, Rohit Adya, Director External Affairs, Vodafone India said, “We were amazed at the response for #selfies4school campaign. Vodafone is committed towards championing the cause of Women empowerment. Gender disparity continues to remain a significant barrier to education in our country. Without proper education, thousands of girls suffer from extremely low literacy rates, poor health outcomes, and alarming rates of child marriage. Earlier this year, Vodafone India had raised funds to send 47,000 girls back to school through a successful internal campaign and the current #selfies4school campaign has added a booster shot to the ongoing exercise.”

Vodafone Foundation is funding the education of girls through the NGO Educate Girls that works in several districts of Rajasthan towards ensuring quality education for girls from the most marginalized and under-served communities. In 2014, Educate Girls hopes to create an impact on over 950,000 children across 8000 schools. “#Selfies4School has helped us touch the right chord while establishing a critical need for education for girls, who are otherwise denied education and often forced into early marriage. Thanks to Vodafone Foundation and Breakthrough’s efforts and to all the change makers who have uploaded thousands of selfies, several thousand girls will be retained in schools”, says Safeena Hussain, Founder and CEO, Educate Girls.

The UN-body UNFPA has been the global partner to several organizations across the world, working towards addressing various issues around child, forced and early marriage. Child marriage denies girls their childhood, robs them of their education and health, and curtails their opportunities. No cultural, religious or economic excuse for child marriage can possibly justify the harm these marriages do to young girls and their potential. “When girls are able to continue their education and avoid early marriage, they can lay the foundation for a better life for themselves and their families and actively contribute towards nation building. Governments in partnership with civil society actors, families and the international community at large are called upon to take urgent action to end the harmful practice of child marriage.” Ms. Frederika Meijer, United Nations Population Fund Representative, India and Bhutan.

The rock band Indian Ocean too echoed the call for change. At the press conference, the band members hummed their popular song, ‘Ghar ho sake toh ab koi shammajalayein’ to endorse their message. “Our concert this evening is an endorsement for the #selfies4school campaign. As a group, we have always been strong advocates for change and believe the situation of girls in our country needs to change. Our music is our way of rallying public opinion for this cause. And the more people that participate, the faster we can bring about this revolution. We owe this to the women of our country.”

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