Six months ago, Pooja Zubare was unaware of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Her teachers and parents scolded her for asking ‘adult’ questions.
It was only when Zubare, 15, joined Maitree, a non-profit organisation that works with children to spread awareness about HIV, that her questions were answered.
“I was able to tell my younger cousins about the prevention measures. I told them not to feel ashamed while discussing the topic,” said the Dahisar resident.
Several children such as Zubare shared their experiences at a workshop on child participation at Goregaon on Monday. The two-day conference organised by the Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT), which works with vulnerable communities stressed on the need for child participation in society.
After the success of an introductory workshop in December, 20 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the country gathered in the city on Monday to discuss child participation in peace projects, environmental projects, community based interventions and social causes.
Dr Arun Kumar, 46, director of training and strategic planning at CCDT, said that child participation is an important part of child rights.
“We now have to look at effective strategies to increase awareness among children and promote respect for their capacities,” he said.
He added that getting children to participate with NGOs is a difficult task as they are not encouraged to ask questions or voice dissent at their homes.
On Tuesday, NGOs will try to and identify causes that children can support. Mary Arokia, 45, programme coordinator for Yuva, Mumbai, which works with children in Garibnagar, said that children’s participation has been a driving force for change in the area.
Aroika said that after a 16-year-old girl in Garibnagar was physically abused by an acquaintance, the children of the area wanted to take out a morcha because they had been taught about the child abuse law.