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On Global Citizen India website: "Our very own Malala" fights for the rights of trafficked children


Day 1   |   Day 2  |  Building an army of child leaders against early marriage  |   Thoughts before going to New York


Our Agents of Change - youth delegates at UN General Assembly in New York (L-R) Takyiwa, Minhaz, Hiba and Anoyara - after their Facebook Live event where they spoke about how young voices matter, what SDGs mean to them and what their hope for a future world is. Here are some great quotes by Anoyara from the Live chat.

"Last year when i had come MDGs weren't achieved fully. This year everyone is coming together - sharing passion and committment to ensure that SDGs are achieved within the timeline. This time I am also happy to see so much encouragement given to young people to speak on issues."

"Whenever a program is being planned that concerns children, youth and adolescents, there should be a specific mechanism to consult the youth when designing them."

"I dream of a world where issues like child marriage, trafficking and any form of abuse won't be there. Children will have wings, wont be afraid of anything and are able to reach the skies."

Anoyara spoke at the event - ‘Together for the 2030 Agenda: Partnering for Women, Children and Adolescents, to Thrive and Transform the World’ High-Level Event

"We will work together to ensure all men, women and children get their rights and no one is left behind"

Anoyara shows the Sustainable Development Goal that matters to her the most - #5 Gender Equality!

Anoyara and fellow youth delegate, Hiba show their commitment towards Every Woman Every Child movement.

Anoyara represented the children and youth at a civil society side event led by the UN Non-Government Liason Services (UN-NGLS) and took the floor in front of high-level civil society leaders and spoke about the effects of being a refugee on children. 

"I wish for a system where every refugee child has access to basic rights they deserve" "when a child is uprooted,they're deprived of opp of edu,health & grow further" - Her speech was met with a resounding applause in the room!

Anoyara participated in the Global Goals World Cup where she played for Goal 5: Gender Equality as she strongly believes that girls must have equal access to quality education.

18 September 2016, New York: Youth voices for young lives: How Young people and Governments are partnering to improve Adolescent Health 

This evening I am joining a panel as part of a programme which will address how Young people and Governments can work together to improve the status of adolescent health across the world. I felt it was a very important platform to speak and share my views as a representative of young people. The programme was organised by PMNCH, UNFPA and Governments of India, Nigeria and Mozambique.  

As I entered the room I was looking for Indian faces as I was told there would be representatives from our country. I was introduced to Madam Vandana Gurnani, the Additional Secretary from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. She was very nice...warm and smiling. She spoke to me and asked about my life and my work. She listened to me with lot of patience.

She also shared her own experiences of working on health issues. She mentioned about different schemes which have been introduced by the Central and State Governments providing cash transfer opportunities for girls on completion of secondary education. I mentioned that I am aware of the special campaign of our Prime Minister on “Beti Bachao Beti Padao” (Save Girls Educate Girls) and feel it is such an important initiative. I also shared how I have got money from Kanyashree, a scheme introduced by our state Government in West Bengal. I said that the money was helpful in getting admission in my college, getting treatment as I have some nerve problem and getting glasses for myself. I also used the money to support the education of my young niece. She was very happy to hear that and encouraged me to see her when I go next to New Delhi.

The programme had two panels and I was part of the first panel. I was so happy to see that all members of the panel were young people like me and representing different networks and alliances from their country. Even the moderator was a young person who was so good in facilitating the discussion.    

I was the first one to speak...and my subject was “Building an army of child leaders against early marriage”, a subject very close to my heart. I felt so proud to share the experiences of my peers from the children’s groups who have been working with me to fight early marriage and other forms of violation of child rights.  

Early marriage robs a girl of her childhood. She is deprived of her opportunity to study, play and pursue a future of self independence. When a girl is married early, often she gets pregnant within less than a year and thus a child is made to prepare to give birth to another child. But her body and mind is not yet prepared to take this responsibility yet. As a result, many girls in our country and worldwide die while giving birth to babies or they give birth to dead children.

Even if the mother and the child survive, in most cases they live a life of poor nutrition and health. And in case the newborn is a girl child, then the neglect of the family and the society forces her to the same vicious cycle of life like her mother.  

Our Central and State Governments are taking initiatives to prevent this in the form of schemes and programmes. And to complement these initiatives the role of the children’s groups is very important. I am working with 80 children’s groups in my locality and these groups include more than 1500 children who are committed to fight early marriage.

Whenever we come to know of any girl whose family is planning to get her married, we try to get clear information. We take turn in visiting the family and getting that information without giving a hint of our intention. When we are sure of the news, we speak to the girl. And this is the most challenging part of our work since if the girl is willing for early marriage it becomes extremely difficult to convince the families. So we try our best to convince her as peers and once she understands the consequence of early marriage, we go and speak to the family. The elders often rebuke us, scold us saying that we are too young to speak on such issues.

We pursue our conversations and when they do not listen we take the help of the members of Child Protection Committees which include adult members like local teachers, health and nutrition service providers, local government as well as representatives of child leaders. In extreme cases, if they also fail to persuade the family, we report to Childline (A national toll free helpline number for children in distress) and the local Police as the ultimate measure to stop child marriage.

This way the incidences of early marriage have reduced significantly in our localities.

Our experiences have proved that empowering children and young people can be significant way of preventing this social ill.

I was finally asked what will be my message to the world leaders....and I said.

While the Government of any country design any policy, scheme or programme for adolescent health, the the young people should be consulted first and their opinions should be taken seriously”

Everyone applauded my speech. My peers also spoke very well sharing their views on how young people’s voices should be prioritised and everyone agreed the very fact that having the first panel for young people was indeed a resonance of that commitment. The discussions indeed gave me the faith that we are moving towards better collaboration in improving adolescent health and creating a healthy and happier future for all young girls like me. 


Day 2: 18 September 2016, New York: Global Goals Soccer Mobilisation at Social Good Summit 

Today I am very excited…had a great day starting with lot of fun and energy! I played football…can you imagine….I am thrilled! I woke up very early as I did not want to miss the event. We reached at YMCA gym around 8.40 a.m. I could hear sound of cheers as our lift reached the floor where the matches were held. It was big space….where basketball is played…..the floor was so nice. There was some magic in the air…there was music, colours, people and hope! There were so many young people like me wearing colourful T shirts, red, green, black, blue…and some ever wore dress like a superwoman. Each team stood for one key Sustainable Development Goal they supported.

I was introduced to my Save the Children team who represented Goal 5…which speaks of gender equality. My team’s name was “Every Last Child” as we stood for the right of every girl especially those who are excluded and neglected. Soon the language was no problem. They welcomed me and asked me if I would like to take position of a defender or a striker. I was amused….felt very important. I chose to be the guard as a goal keeper…..the guard of the goal to ensure gender equality

I was introduced to my Save the Children team who represented Goal 5…which speaks of gender equality. My team’s name was “Every Last Child” as we stood for the right of every girl especially those who are excluded and neglected. Soon the language was no problem. They welcomed me and asked me if I would like to take position of a defender or a striker. I was amused….felt very important. I chose to be the guard as a goal keeper…..the guard of the goal to ensure gender equality.

I met several important people as they greeted me and cheered me for joining the UNGA meet for this year. I knew some of the faces from last year. Though we were told that winning was not a priority but we felt as if winning the game was important to strengthen the voices for the goal and mobilise support from others in achieving it.

Our team was among the two contenders for the final round. But finally the other team won today’s games. They stood for greener environment and I wish them very good luck.  But at the end everyone became one team taking pledge to achieve the SDGs. We sang and danced together concluding with the commitment to make the world a better place for all.

Back in India there has been lot of excitement in recent years about the participation of girls and women in sports activities. In the last and the recent Olympic games, the performance of Indian female sportspersons have been significant. Dikhsha, Sindhu, Mary Kom, Saina, Dipa….we are all very proud of them.

When girls and women get engaged in sports, they stay healthy, experience holistic development and become more self-confident.   And when they taste success as a sportsperson, they become an inspiration for thousands of others girls. This way gender imbalances start reducing. Good training, nutrition and better opportunities are essential to motivate them. Ensuring participation of girls and women in sports will take us closer to achieving the SDGs 3, 5 and 10. 


DAY 1: 16 September 2016, New York: Appointment ceremony of Nadia Murad as the UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of the survivors of Human Trafficking

Today I saw Nadia Murad. It was my first day of the UNGA visit this year. I was excited to enter the premise of UN looking forward to meeting new people and gathering new knowledge. I knew from my schedule that I would be attending the Appointment ceremony of Nadia Murad as the UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of the survivors of Human Trafficking.  I thought it would be a very official meeting with serious discussions among senior people. But what followed was an emotional journey making me more strong and powerful within.    

I entered a room full of people from different countries. Then I saw a face of a young woman on a big screen, thin but a determined face. She was shown saying something and her speech was being translated in English. I was told by my chaperone that we were listening to Nadia Murad and the story of her life, story full of sufferings, pain and unthinkable violation of human rights.    

Nadia Murad Basee Taha is a 23 year old Yazidi woman from Iraq. Two years ago her village was attacked by Islamic state militants resulting in killing and abuse of the whole community. She saw her six brothers and mother getting butchered by the militants. Her young cousin aged 16 years succumbed to abuse. She was not spared as she was captured from her village and taken to different place. She was sold, bought and subjected to severe forms of sexual and physical abuse. Her body and mind still bear the marks of those atrocities. One day she managed to escape and since then she has been advocating against human trafficking and seeking justice for millions of victims of this heinous crime. She stands for immense courage and a spirit which could not be defeated by anyone.  She found a strong support from international lawyer Amal Clooney for whom Nadia has become a friend from a client.      

I could connect with Nadia. She was not alien to me.

As she spoke, I could see the glimpses of my past as a child who was once trafficked and later survived. As I listened to Nadia’s sufferings, I was very emotional knowing that her pain and loss were far more severe and outrageous. I would always pray for someone to come and take me out of a life where every day was a hell. And I would also think if I would ever get a chance to be free, I would do something to stop this practice called human trafficking.  

When I was rescued by Save the Children and Dhagagia Social Welfare Society (local partner organisation), I felt so lucky!  I was 13 years old then. It was not easy for me to be normal again.  I used to be very angry and agitated initially. But then I was counselled and was encouraged to be part of children’s group. I got a new reason to live life.  I am now involved with 80 children’s groups consisting of  more than 1500 children who work as agile guards against human trafficking in their villages. They are committed to eliminate this social ill. But there is a need to have more people working with us to prevent this across the country. There is also a need to think of measures like opportunities for education, life skills and vocational trainings for the survivors of trafficking to pave way for their return to a life of dignity.        

Today I am proud that I have met Nadia who has earned such global recognition and respect with the new responsibility.  I felt Nadia is a like “Jolonto prodeep”(a burning lamp) bearing the light of hope for millions of girls and women who are victims of trafficking and abuse. Whoever hears her stories will become the messenger of protests against the atrocities and make her voice and fight against human trafficking more powerful. And I want to be one of those my village, in my state, in my country as well as in other parts of the world. I look forward to a day when I can meet Nadia and convey to her that we need her beside us to show us the way.


Anoyara, aged 18 years, is a child rights advocate from the state of West Bengal in India. Sheer poverty had once led her into being trafficked as a child domestic worker but she was rescued through timely intervention. Anoyara’s experience, instead of scarring her, has made her a vocal campaigner against human trafficking and fight for the rights of young girls. She joined the movement against trafficking initiated by girls like her, with the support of a local NGO. 

Anoyara attended the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit held in 2015 at the United Nations in New York as a Save the Children youth delegate and has since been working to help create awareness about the Goals in her community and to hold decision makers accountable to the commitments that were made. She also recently won the 'She award' by The Telegraph newspaper in the 'social work' category for her outstanding contribution. 

We caught up with Anoyara before she left for New York and asked her some questions...

This is your second time at UNGA, what are you most excited about?

I feel it is a priviliege to be a part of such a significant opportunity. As I go there, I am aware, that I carry along with a huge responsibility; responsibility to be able to stand up not just for myself but for for millions like me in India and around the world. If I can be the voice for many others like me before so many imporant leaders. I hear that our own Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be there. When I came last year, I was hoping to meet him. This year, I do hope, I am able to meet him and talk about the issues of children especially those of girls and women. There are some important schemes, like Kanyashri, being implemented in states like West Bengal to prevent early marriage and encourage parents to support their girls, receive education until at least high school. 

What is your favourite SDG and why?

All goals are equally important and related to each other. Last year, i was a part of this campaign called action/2015 which was to tell people about the important issues the world leaders were to adopt at UNGA 2015. I saw it come alive when the goals were adopted by the Presidents and Prime Minsters of 193 countries.

I feel gender equality is the most important especially education for the girls. If you educate the girls she will in a better position to make decisions and choices about her life and her family. Our Prime Minister has launched this campaign called beti bachao, beti padhao which I think is a great initiative and everyone  should know about it. I do hope girls everywhere must have equal opportunity to excel and realise their dreams.

I believe in the motto: You educate a man; you educate an individual. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.

What will be your main message to world leaders this year?

I want to say this on behalf of all the girls in India and around the world – Let’s create an equal and fair world for girls and women. Girls should be able to exercise their rights in sharing their opinions and shaping the decisions related to any policies towards their developments. Where they have equal opportunity to survive, learn and thrive, where they are free to dream and have all they need to turn them into reality. 

Appointment ceremony of Nadia Murad as the UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of the survivors of Human Trafficking.