A social activist saw the prevalence of backwardness in her village and decided to bring in change.

It is quite often when voices of the marginalized and less empowered are silenced by the dominant beliefs in which the righteous ones are always oppressed. The meaningless practices, the social evils that still happen to exist in today’s contemporary world continue to act as the biggest barrier when it comes to the development of a particular society. Naming few out of many such as illiteracy, child marriage, patriarchy and the most important gender inequality are prime examples of how a local village in Haryana existed until 2013.

Anju Verma, a 16-year-old girl from Daulatpur village in the district of Fatehabad, Haryana, a school student, a social activist saw the prevalence of such backwardness in her village and decided to bring in change. The young little girl became a visionary at the age of 12 when she came in terms with child labour as her own classmates were victims of it. She was of the opinion if people like her left these problems for someone else to solve then there would never be any social change.

Even though success doesn’t come right away, she’ll never give up. With a rage for justice towards the children in her village, she decided to tackle this atrocity by going around houses in her village where she encountered child labour and tried to convince the parents. It wasn’t easy. She had to face the repercussions of the need for this social change brought about. Her desire and burning passion to make her village free of child labour had her work around the clock and face many more ramifications such as satire and mockery from the neighbours and the disbelief and discontent her parents had on her due to her bold and her valiant nature to end the vicious loop of in her village.

With her longing to end child labour, she also happened to encounter gender inequality, as it existed for a very long time but she only became aware of it fully when she realized that it happened in her own household as well. She was denied to go out by her parents as they shared the stereotypical notion of how girls are meant to stay at home. After being aware of gender-based discrimination, she started to hold a strong ideology that girls and young women should not be dependent on anyone, be it her husband or her family and should fight for her own right in this cruel world, as she progresses towards uplifting women through such beliefs.

She hails from a middle-class family, where her father is a truck driver and her mother is a housewife. Apart from working for the society, she wants to become a cardiologist for her personal reason and wishes to study further to fulfil her dream as she continues to pursue her schooling.

Her parents started to acknowledge her divergent view beliefs and started to support her when she was awarded by the Panchayat of her village and the DC officer on a national level program held in Kurukshetra as she was recognized as the Village Level Child Protection Committee to make her village child labor free as she was successful in eradicating child labor in 26 villages in Fatehabad along which she had been even involved in rescuing 46 children from work sites and enroll them back to school.

Her fiery temperament and an outstanding nature to break free from these supposed norms her village shared made her initiate a movement that is capable of creating a long-lasting impact by eradicating the issue from its roots.  She created a campaign called ‘Komal Haath Kalam Ke Saath’ (Tender hands with Education). She along with her few teammates act like a task force, where they visit the farms of nearby villages in her district and counsel the parents, children as well as landlords for not employing children in any form of work. They carry it out by explaining to them the effects of involving the children as labourers and its implications for their future. As a child rights champion, she is grooming her interpersonal and public speaking skills as she is working towards it by taking part in various programs such as she spoke at TedX Pune regarding her journey as a catalyst for social change where she received a standing ovation by more than 1000 attendees.

Through her experience, she has learned that many voices are stronger than one and that a group can have a powerful impact than an individual. She also reckons that more initiatives should be taken by people around the world, someone a commoner like her, as issues like this do not only exist in her place but is a worldwide concern. If one is under the false impression that they do not have the power to bring in change, then they are wrong as even thinking about it is a big step towards achieving success.

Message to Women:

“The bigger the dreams, the bigger will be the problems and the bigger will be the achievement”