New Delhi: On the eve of International Day of the Girl Child (IDG), over 100 girls took over as traffic controllers at four places here, spreading the word about gender equality through pamphlets and banners.
IDG is a UN-declared international observance day which has been celebrated globally on October 11 since 2012.
The drive "Girls taking Over" was initiated by Plan India, an NGO working towards child development, and the European Union (EU), as part of their three-year collaboration.
EU Ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski inaugurated the event and distributed badges to young girls who were mainly from the marginalised community.
"I was deployed at the India Gate intersection. I, with others, distributed pamphlets to commuters and told them about the importance of educating girls and treating them equally," said Champa, 19, who has recently enrolled in a liberal arts course.
"We also guided the traffic and asked the drivers to get behind the zebra crossing whenever one erred beyond it," she said.
"I wanted to be part of the initiative since I believe that girls in our community are kept under restrictions and I want to change that," she added.
The traffic intersections where the drive was undertaken were at Rajpath, Mandi House, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Windsor Circle. Traffic personnel helped the girls with their two-hour-long stint.
Inaugurating the initiative, Kozlowski said: "Ensuring that girls feel respected and valued in society is the first step to breaking down the barriers of discrimination. Today, on International Day of the Girl Child, we remember that empowering girls and women is not just our moral duty, it is also the solution to many of the greatest challenges we face in the quest for development and peace: Investing in girls is investing in peace and prosperity."
Another girl, Ruby, a class 10 student from a government school in Madanpur Khadar also took over as a Radio Jockey (RJ) at Radio Mirchi, a local radio station.
"I was given a nickname of 'Rocking Ruby' and had an interaction with 'Recharge Rohit', the in-house RJ there. I learnt about the style of speaking well and had a lot of fun. I joined the campaign not for a girl from my locality or city, or my country, but for girls all over the world who face discrimination," said Ruby told.
"We have been running this campaign since even before the UN came up with IDG. During the last few days girls took over as Sarpanch, corporate CEO, and editors of reputed newspapers around the country," said Executive Director of Plan India Bhagyashri Dengle.
She said they planned this initiative to give the girls an opportunity to explore the career options which may not be open to them.
"We will also be releasing our annual report 'State of the Girl Child in India' on October 14," she added.