The Girls Rights Forum (GRF) is an organised network of adolescent girls formed in two districts of Nepal – Kapilvastu and Rupandehi. Formed and registered in 2018, GRF has over 1500 members and is the first legally registered network of adolescent girls led by adolescent girls in Lumbini Province, Nepal. It was formed to address the gap in mainstream women’s rights discourse and practice that did not accommodate and acknowledge issues of adolescent girls as rights issues.
The objective of GRF is to organise and enable adolescent girls to collectively advocate for their own rights and against harmful social norms and structural discrimination. It aims to address fundamental issues concerning adolescent girls, such as child marriage, education, health, safety, security and rights to mobility through policy advocacy, lobbying and other related activities.
The GRF members face vilification from families and community members, which sometimes takes intense turn into threats of violence and intimidation. GRF members also encounter challenges in establishing their credibility especially with the local government bodies. They are often not taken seriously because of their age, and not trusted enough as legitimate rights activists to be eligible for programs, funds, representation in various platforms and policy discussions on child rights and child marriage. In addition, GRF members often experience mobility restrictions and lack of trust from their own family members.
In order to address these backlashes, the GRF members have been engaging with parents, men, boys, religious and community leaders, as well as different government and non-government organisations through inter-generational dialogues, discussions, workshops etc. in order to transform harmful social norms and gain trust and support. GRF members have also been collaborating with Women’s Rights Organisations (WROs), national adolescents’ networks as well as international networks and alliances such as Girls Not Brides (GNB), WHRD etc. in order to further amplify their voice and collective agency.