Meena is a loveable cartoon character conceived and created by UNICEF. Little Meena is a bundle of fun and enthusiasm. She is an intelligent and smart young girl whose stories primarily illustrate issues relating to children, and are told in an entertaining and humorous fashion.
The stories enable children to enhance their self-esteem and self-worth and familiarise themselves with life skills essential for their empowerment. The enabling relationship that Meena has with Raju is a model for improved gender relationships from an early age. from South Asia. She is a spirited, nine-year-old girl who braves the world – whether in her efforts to go to school or in fighting the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in her village.
Meena is widely recognised and appreciated in most South Asian countries, and is a successful advocacy and teaching tool for girls’ and children’s rights. The Meena figure has achieved remarkable popularity as she tackles important issues affecting children, and the threats to the rights of millions of girls in South Asia.
In India, Meena has attained national recognition and has been integrated as a communication tool within ongoing nationwide education and communication programmes.
State-owned radio and television channels are airing spots promoting girls’ education featuring Meena. In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, the State Education Department has taken the lead in establishing more than 19,000 girls’ groups called “Meena Manch” throughout the state. The process was initiated in 2002.
Under the guidance of one facilitator/teacher, the Manch helps ensure age-appropriate enrolment, regular attendance and completion of primary education. Meena Cabinets are being set up in primary schools and they serve as forums for children to express themselves.