Offering young mothers to express their leadership and rights
If you visit an organization named “Princess center”, smiling young ladies will welcome you to their office and will share their work with pleasure.
This organization was established in 2003 to protect girls and young women’s rights in Mongolia. Vision of the Princess center is to contribute for creating girls-friendly society in Mongolia. Moreover, Princess center aims to become a strong voice of girls in nationwide level and to work as a driving-force of the girls’ rights movement in Mongolia with meaningful participation of girls. The Princess center is the only one institution in Mongolia that focuses on the teenage pregnancy and works with teenage mothers.
Princess center has 3 youth participatory clubs such as ‘PRINCESS CLUB’ of social science students, ‘YOUNG MOTHERS’ CLUB’ and ‘STRONG BOYS CLUB’ of adolescent boys and young males. Since 2012, Princess has begun to implement ‘Young mothers’ empowerment program’ that aims to empower girls and develop their leadership skills though increasing their social commitment, initiatives and participation. Since 2013, the Princess center has implemented many initiatives using ARTS in order to raise awareness about girls’ and women’s rights violations (sexual abuse, domestic violence, unwanted pregnancy and etc) and prevent girls from probable risks.
The Princess center has been working with FDG since 2011. Since then the active and creative staff of the center have been implementing many interesting and effective programs and projects.
Girls’ Leadership Program (GLP)
GLP aims to empower adolescent’s girls aged between 15 to 18 years old to be confident leaders and activist on girls’ rights and reproductive health in their communities. Selected adolescent girls for the GLP participated in Leadership trainings that provide them basic understanding of self-awareness, self-confidence, effective relationship and girls’ leadership. The girls were involved in Awareness raising activities forming into 4 teams and participating in awareness raising activities about 4 different themes:
- Girls’ rights in family environment – During leadership training, the center staff realized that most girls don’t have close relationship with their parents and sometimes they feel difficult to understand each other. Based on this situation, one team organized ‘letter to mother’ campaign in their high schools.
- Girls’ rights in school environment – This team conducted a monitoring on their own school environment and evaluated how friendly it is to girls. As a result of their survey, they have revealed that there is bullying between female students such as naming, shaming and harassing.
- Ethical use of social media – This team organized a training for high school female students and taught them how to use social media in safe way and prefer healthy relationship while using any social media tool. Team members developed training curriculum by themselves.
- Unwanted pregnancy amongst teenage girls – This team created a Facebook page named ‘Say No’ aimed at providing sexual and reproductive health knowledge to peer girls. They created social media contents on prevention from unwanted pregnancy by themselves and posted on their Facebook page ‘Say No’.
Working as a team and raising awareness on their chosen issues was crucial to GLP participants and as a result, their skills on organizing training/discussion, presenting, conducting survey and developing information have improved.
Young Mothers’ Empowerment Program (YMEP)
The program aims to empower teenage and young mothers through providing them comprehensive social work services based on their individual needs and engaging them into social activities. Each year the Princess center has included 30 young mothers in this program.
After receiving brief information about the mother, exploring her problems and creating mutual beliefs, social workers filled out the qualitative survey questionnaire and conducted needs assessment according to the social work methodology and developed interpretation plan for each client.
The following services have been provided to teenage mothers in different ways:
- Providing socio-psychological counseling to teenage mothers and their family members
- Providing support to receive social welfare benefit from the government organization
- Providing necessary aid
- Mediating to professional institutions such as legal and health
Beside receiving the services, the clients participated in the educational trainings on self-confidence, on human development, on sexuality and reproductive health issues.
One of the important part of the program was to engage young mothers into other interesting events organized by civil society organizations.
Girls’ Rights Theatre
On the occasion of the international day of the Girls Child, the center had planned to establish the first Girls’ Rights Theatre in Mongolia. This theatre was aimed to perform and narrate different forms of violations of girls’ rights through art and performance. Girls Rights Theatre focused on social issues related with girls’ rights continuously such as early pregnancy, unsafe abortion, sexual abuse, teen dating rape, street harassment, domestic violence and etc.
Regarding this initiative, members of the Young Mothers’ Club have organized a meeting with author Mrs. Enkhsaikhan and discussed true stories about their lives. As a result of this meeting, Mrs. Enkhsaikhan wrote a novel ‘FLY HIGH MY GIRL’ based on true and real life events of a teenage mother.
“I am a Flying Girl” Campaign
After the publication of ‘FLY HIGH MY GIRL’ novel, the Princess center together with Mrs. Enkhsaikhan organized short-term campaigns to read this book amongst students of 35 secondary schools in Ulaanbaatar city and youth of 14 soums and 11 aimags of Youth Development Centers in other parts of the country. Currently, this book was published 5000 copies and read by 6000 adolescents and youth of Mongolia.
According to the guideline of reading this book, every single reader has written a letter based on their understanding and sent them to the author or the Princess center. Reading the letters written by readers, The Princess center received thousands of requests to make this novel professional and educational movie dedicated to adolescents and youth. The movie was produced and broadcasted by 5 TV channels and a tele-record of the play showed thousands of teen-age school boys and girl and conducted debate among them.
Before producing the movie, Princess center together with young mothers prepared and performed ‘I AM A FLYING GIRL’ stage monologue with help of an honored actress of Mongolia. Performers/actresses of the First Girls Rights Theatre were club members who were teenage mothers (former clients and members of the Young Mothers’ Club). The play consisted of 10 monologues about 10 true stories of girls who experienced sexual abuse, domestic violence, who got pregnant at their teen-age, about school bullying. The play has been performed several times in a theatre for teen-agers.
The “Strong Boys”
The Princess center considered that it isn’t enough to work with only girls when it comes to fighting for their rights and prevention from violence. So they implemented a project named ‘Strong boys against violence’ and created a club. Today, the club is working independently with 9 permanent members consisted of male social work graduates and senior students.
All members of the club were prepared as instructors to work with boys and young males within the above mentioned project and trained on human rights, gender, gender-based violence, boys & men’s involvement and healthy relationship. Moreover, the instructors collaborated with school principals, teachers and social workers closely in order to bring new culture in school environment. Each instructor of the club provided 25-30 hours of educational training on ‘healthy relationship’ to members of school based clubs. Educational training curriculum and module on ‘healthy relationship’ was co-developed by Princess center professionals and ‘Strong boys’ club members. The “STRONG BOYS” club has worked in 10 secondary schools in 6 districts of Ulaanbaatar city and established 10 school based boys’ clubs.
The Princess center is extending its awareness raising and service providing activities for teen-age girls and mothers in some provinces of Mongolia through providing training and experience sharing with social workers of those provinces.
par Dulmaa Luvsansharav