Church of South India : Focus 9/99

THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA (CSI): FOCUS 9/99

Focus 9/99 is a programme that mobilises churches and communities in India’s southern states to ‘assure the future of children’, with a special emphasis on girls.

From 2000 to 2010, the CSI initiated a campaign to champion the rights of children as a whole and girls in particular. The CSI reiterated its commitment to children in 2017, when it marked its 70th anniversary by declaring its aim to grow into ‘a child-friendly, child-focused, child-oriented and child-centred church’.

Focus 9/99 is a programme that grew out of those promises. It operates in India’s five southern states: Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Telengana. There are 99 districts in total here and the CSI works with one congregation in each of those districts to promote children’s rights, to facilitate compliance with legal frameworks protecting child rights, and to monitor and report any cases of child abuse.

The CSI actively sought advice from children whilst writing its child protection policy. The church hosts an annual ‘children's Synod’ involving youngsters from local churches, special needs schools and hostels. Some 800 children attended the 2019 children’s Synod in Bangalore. They sang together, attended workshops on issues relating to children’s rights, deliberated on issues of child protection, and raised their opinions and aspirations about a child-friendly church. The children’s Synod has a two-fold purpose: to empower children to become champions for children’s issues of in their communities and to provide input into the draft CSI Child protection policy.

In 2019, Focus 9/99 launched a campaign specifically aimed at girls, titled Assuring her future. The aim of the campaign was to tackle all forms of discrimination against girls, challenging any patriarchal attitudes in Indian society that might cause discrimination against girls.