Impact Story 12: (Legal) Identity Matters
In this series, we highlight the Innovation Impact Stories of our members. They share their projects with a focus on new, innovative ways to make an impact and accelerate change to a better world!
Street Children’s Path to Legal Rights
In India, about two million children are living on the streets, whether orphaned, runaways or born to parents facing homelessness. Nearly 70% of these children are forced to work for their survival, with no access to education. Their path to a brighter future is obstructed by a seemingly simple yet critical barrier: a legal identity. Save the Children stepped in to register these children and issue them with ID cards. The first step towards gaining access to education, healthcare, and essential youth services.
Clearing the first hurdle
Save the Children India has been steadfastly dedicated to improving the lives of street children for years. A significant breakthrough in the ability to offer assistance occurred in 2018 via the Nationale Postcode Loterij. They backed the Save the Children project called “Surviving the Streets in India – The Invisibles. Their aim was to give legal identity to children in the 10 poorest cities. Official registration is the gateway for these children to access education, healthcare, and the protective services offered by youth organisations, offering them a viable escape from the dangers on the streets. Approximately 80% of them lacked any form of official identification, locking them out of participating fully in Indian society.
287,045 children’s lives changed
In collaboration with local partners Saati & Salaam Balaak Trust, New Vision en MRYDO, children were identified and provided with ID documents even during the challenging times of the pandemic. Since the start of the project, a staggering 287,045 street children across four states (Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal) have been equipped with a legal ID card. A milestone that immediately granted 139,505 children access to basic education, health facilities, skills training, and/or financial services within just the first year. The card will be a lifelong key, unlocking doors to a better future. Our partners continue this vital work guided by the “standard operating procedures” set up during the project.
Taking it to the next level: India’s Supreme Court ruling
The work didn’t end there. Save the Children continued to advocate for these children. In 2021, the Supreme Court of India took note of our ongoing advocacy and campaign on street children. Utilising the meticulously compiled data, the National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) created a digital tracking and monitoring tool known as the “Baal Swaraj Portal.” This innovation ensures that children living on the streets are much more visible. As a monumental result, the Supreme Court of India has now required the Indian government to use the dashboard and our developed standard procedures to provide children with identity cards. In short, this change in the law means that street children are integrated into Indian society, paving the way for them to build their futures while preserving all their rights.