Guneet Monga Kapoor, Ashwini Yardi partner with She Leads Impact Fund to combat child marriages

Guneet Monga Kapoor and Ashwini Yardi. Photo: Hardly Anonymous Comminications

In a groundbreaking collaboration, She Leads Impact Fund has joined hands with the Kicking Balls team to address the history of Child Marriages in India. In Sikhya Entertainment’s and Viniyard Film’s latest documentary of that name, renowned producers, Ashvini Yardi, Guneet Monga Kapoor and Achin Jain bring this age-old issue to the forefront.

The heart-tugging film explores three villages in Rajasthan, where an NGO is tackling Child Marriage through football. Kicking Balls amplifies the voices of these courageous girls and explores their sisterhood and journey in gaining independence and agency.

A special screening of Kicking Balls was recently hosted in the capital region, attracting impact investors and drawing attention to the urgent need for strengthened national and state-level policies to eliminate child marriage by 2030. This partnership between She Leads Impact Fund, Vineyard Films and Sikhya Entertainment is dedicated to ending child marriage and supporting married girls in rural households.

This partnership aims to harness the power of storytelling, grant funding, corporate partnerships and technology to drive social change and empower young girls trapped in the cycle of early marriage. To support the mission of ending child marriage and empowering affected girls, the She Leads Impact Fund is providing $25,000 in funding to bring transformative change to the lives of women married as children.

Commenting on this, director Vijayeta Kumar said, “This film is very close to my heart because I belong to Rajasthan. Kicking Balls is the story of these brave young girls from rural Rajasthan, tackling their way out of forced child marriages, poverty and caste oppression by playing football and fighting for their right to study. This film began as an exploration of everyday feminism and unbelievable courage. I’m really excited to see how this film grows with each woman and spreads awareness to bring reforms in each community to which we take it.”

Speaking on the announcement, Ajaita Shah, Founding Partner, She Leads Impact Fund, commented, “Having spent over a decade working to uplift rural women through Frontier Markets, I have witnessed firsthand the pressing issues these women face, with child marriage being one of the most pervasive and heartbreaking. Our mission has always been to empower women by providing them with the tools, education and opportunities they need to break free from cycles of poverty and oppression. Kicking Balls is a powerful catalyst for this change, shining a light on the resilience and strength of young girls forced into early marriages.”

She went on, “By partnering with visionaries like Ashvini and Guneet, we are not just telling a story—we are igniting a movement. Our She Leads Impact Fund aims to engage one million women, transforming stories of hardship into narratives of empowerment and driving meaningful policy change to eradicate child marriage once and for all.”

A still from the documentary, Kicking Balls. Photo: Hardly Anonymous Communications

Producer Ashvini Yardi added, “Kicking Balls is very close to my heart too. In 2008, I brought India’s first comprehensive show on Child Marriage, titled Balika Vadhu, which revolutionized Indian television and sparked dialogue around the reforms needed to suppress this age-old practice. During my 31 years in the TV and film industry, I’ve realized the impact we leave and how the stories we tell shape society. Working with Guneet on a topic so close to my heart in this documentary allowed us to validate the conversation that films can become more and stand for more. And now, with Ajaita Shah onboard, the mission to bring this impact through grassroots villages across India is on. Through fundraising, we intend to bring a transformative change to the lives of women married as children. I’m honored to be a part of this initiative as a filmmaker to leave an impact on viewers through storytelling.”

Guneet Monga Kapoor said, “Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. That’s 23 girls every minute. Kicking Balls became a project that we knew could not just be a film, it had to be a conversation. After having screened in several schools across India, I was always asked, what more I could do to help these young girls. We’re storytellers, meant to reflect what we see at the grassroots—our effort is to tell stories that ignite conversations and spark change in the policies of the country. I was extremely fortunate to meet  Ajaita Shah, who exchanged her views and the magnitude of work she has done so far in fundraising to help women across the country. Together, we wish to go a step further and collaborate to engage 1 million women, in areas where child marriage and gender inequality are highly prevalent in India.”

Despite child marriage being illegal in India for girls under 18, the practice remains common. According to UNICEF, India has 223 million child brides, one-third of the global total. Estimates suggest at least 1.5 million underage girls marry in India each year. Rajasthan has a particularly high rate, with 24.5 percent of women aged 20 to 24 having been married before 18. The collaboration aims to build a nationwide campaign, inviting organizations and industry bodies to join the movement. This initiative seeks to create a ripple effect by leveraging storytelling and strategic funding, empowering young girls and fostering a culture of gender equity and independence.



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