The community worker reducing child marriage

Thirty-nine-year-old Shanti Lal is from Sindh province in Pakistan and lives with her husband and two sons.

Shanti has worked for seventeen years in community development and is now the Programme Coordinator for Parkari Community Development Programme, which promotes girls’ education and raises awareness on civil and human rights. The organisation serves one of the most marginalised communities in Sindh.

Since Shanti’s organisation was connected with the Every Voice Counts (EVC) programme she has seen stronger links being developed with the government. Following training, her organisation has also been able to raise awareness on harmful practices, such as early marriage within the community, resulting in a reduction in child marriages.

As part of the EVC programme, District Engagement Groups were formed in Pakistan to better connect communities with public authorities. Shanti is a member of one of these groups, alongside representatives from six other civil society organisations. She explains: “The main activities of the groups are to lobby district and provincial public authorities on the implementation of laws related to women, such as the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013.”

“My message to other women is to be strong, independent and know your rights.”

Shanti Lal

Shanti proudly lists all the achievements of the group, which include: the establishment of a district monitoring committee to monitor early marriages; identifying budget for safe houses for women; and training for the Police on implementing the Act.

She concludes: “I want to help communities to become stronger by receiving an education and for women and girls to receive their basic rights. People are now well aware of their rights and are more confident and independent to take initiatives and resolve women related issues by themselves.