Youth reporter campaigns against online violence
Rajyalaxmi is a passionate advocate for equality and uses skills gained in a Plan International-run youth reporters project to call for an end to discrimination and hold decision-makers to account.
A talented youth reporter, 22-year-old Rajyalaxmi uses digital activism to advocate against the harmful traditional practices that are still prevalent in Nepal’s Jumla district. “I used to be timid. I did not have the confidence to speak in front of others. However, after attending the youth reporters training, I learnt how to use social media to express myself and as a platform for my activism.”
In 2020, Plan International developed the Youth Reporters project to equip young people with the skills to help make their voices heard during the evolving COVID-19 crisis in Nepal. The project helped young people share their stories with their supporters and campaign for change among decision-makers.
52 young people, including Rajyalaxmi, received online training in creative media skills such as photography, writing, and visual storytelling so they could share the issues that mattered to them through their social media platforms. In addition, they were also involved in holding humanitarian agencies to account during the COVID-19 response.
Skills for activism
“This was the first time I attended training sessions online. It was difficult as we do not have internet access at home. We had to walk to the rural municipality office to take part in the online course,” explains Rajyalaxmi. “I met other girls online who were campaigning against child marriage. I learnt to use a phone camera, interview leaders in my municipality, and wrote a few articles about the COVID-19 situation which were published online.”
To mark the 2020 International Day of Girl, Rajyalaxmi was selected to take over the role of editor of an online news portal. As editor, Rajyalaxmi raised the issue of equal representation of girls and women in the media. She also edited a Day of the Girl article and wrote a piece about how the lockdown is creating challenges in the lives of people in Jumla, including the increase in gender-based violence against women.
For the 2021 International Day of the Girl, Rajyalaxmi took over the role of Sinja Rural Municipality’s chairperson Mr. Deval where she advocated for the rights of girls to be free from violence online. “Online violence against girls is not acceptable. The local government should formulate laws and policies where adolescent girls can live in society with dignity and respect.”
End online violence
In total, 62 girls took part in the 2021 Girls Takeover in Nepal, taking over leadership roles in 31 local governments in 7 districts where Plan International works. The girls were able to secure written commitments from local governments to work together with adolescent girls groups to build a future where girls are free to be online.
Using her youth reporting skills, Rajyalaxmi writes regular blogs about misinformation and disinformation online which are published on Shilapatra.com. “Since the majority of adolescent girls have experienced online violence, the government should be careful and pay attention to this issue.”
“Even if girls are expressing themselves online, they have to face trolls, memes, and even abusive comments about their profiles. Without their permission, their photos are edited and posted in unknown groups. This is how we, girls have been humiliated online. Still, our government does not find online abuse a serious issue.”