Payal speaks to a school group in an Indian village. Photo courtesy World Children’s Prize.

In the village of Rajasthan, India, Payal Jangid has led a fight against child marriage. It began in 2014, when the then 11-year-old Payal stopped the marriages of her older sister and herself. Going against longstanding traditions, and reaching out for the help of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, Payal convinced her parents that child marriage was wrong and her education was more important.

Since then, Payal has led the fight against child marriage – including helping her own village become “child friendly” and establishing a Child Parliament in the village that fights for change. The Child Parliament frequently provides advice to adult leaders, and works through campaigns, rallies, posters, and speaking events to help the region end child marriage. Payal currently serves as the Child Parliament’s leader. Through their efforts, nearly all children in Rajasthan attend and complete school, and child marriage is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

“Here in Rajasthan, lots of girls are forced to work hard and get married when they are only twelve. I don’t like child marriage. We visit children at home and explain to their parents why school is important. I want to be a teacher. We also tell fathers not to hit their children or wives. If they are loving instead, things are better for everyone.”

Her efforts are contributing to the recent decline in child marriages across India. Between 2006 and 2016, child marriages in India decreased by 20% and the moniker of being a “child friendly village” is becoming desired. 

In September 2019, Payal received the Changemaker Award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, recognizing her efforts to end child labor and child marriage. She was also recognized as an Honorary Adult Friend by the World Children’s Prize. She hopes to become a teacher.

“This recognition has further encouraged me to continue my journey towards ensuring that children around the world are free from any form of exploitation,” she says. “As [Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi] always says, if we take care of this one generation, this generation will take care of all the generations to come.”

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