Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement.

Vincent Belho
General Manager
Nagaland Branch – Kohima

The International Day of the Girl Child promotes girls’ rights and highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys. It is a UN observance that is annually held on October 11. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

 

Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.

 

The definition of girl is a female under aged 18, or a persons’ child or girlfriend, or a group of woman friends. The United Nation states that there are 1.1 billion girls today brimming with talent and creativity. However, violence, discrimination and the lack of equal opportunities serve to thwart the dreams and potential of many of them. The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement.”

 

Some important factors that need to be addressed in the context of India:

Child marriage: According to research, India has the highest number of child brides in the world. Almost 47 percent of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. The rates of child marriage vary between states and are as high as 69 percent and 65 percent in Bihar and Rajasthan respectively. While fewer Indian girls are marrying before the age of 15, rates of marriage have increased for girls between the ages 15 and18.

 

Female foeticide: Data released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) for 150 countries over 40 years shows that India and China are the only two countries in the world where female infant mortality has been higher than male infant mortality in the 2000s. The data shows that an Indian girl child aged 1-5 year is 75 percent more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world.

 

Sex determination and the pressure for a male child in many parts of India and across different income groups is a major factor here. While efforts by the government are on to remedy this issue, a major shift in thought process will be essential to lead to better outcomes.

 

Education: Achievements and Challenges report by UNGEI (United Nations Girls Education Initiative) released in 2015 states that in India, gender gaps in primary and lower secondary education have been closed. In the arena of education, we have indeed made progress. Several strategies have been used to assure improved accessibility and quality of girls’ schooling at the primary and lower secondary levels. These include free textbooks for girls, back-to-school camps and bridging courses, recruitment of female teachers, and national programmes to increase demand for schooling among rural and disadvantaged girls. However, in rural India and lower economic groups, girls end up with a huge share of household chores, which often sees them drop out of school.

 

Gender discrimination: is rampant in India. From the desire for a male child and female foeticide to the sexual assault and rape of minors, the existence of a girl child is difficult. As girls, they are burdened with household chores, denied education and opportunities, and seen as a burden till they are married off. Gender discrimination is something that young girls will have to battle even as adults. It is rampant and rears its ugly head all too often in our society, including in workplaces and homes.

 

Access to medical care: Poor sanitation, lack of proper food for the mother and a new born girl child, followed by poor nutrition and lack of medical care when it comes to health and hygiene, makes the girl child susceptible to various ailments and considerably lowers immunity.

 

What you can do?

 

Organise Rally’s, Street plays, Flash Mobs, Competition’s – Drawings, paintings, Elocution, Debate, Sharing experiences, Girls Speak out etc to highlight the issues, challenges girls have to deal with today, from injustice in society, their community and in the workplace, to unfairness in opportunities in education, or gender violence, sexism, war, climate change, and many others.

 

What we are doing: We are organising a Silent Walk rally on 11th oct 2017 at Kohima to campaign on “Zero Tolerance to Violence against Women”, join us and sign on the Signature campaign, participate at the Speak out sessions in the community and colleges. Encourage your child to participate at the school activities like drawing, essay and elocution competitions, Share and Like issues of Girl Child on social media or simply tune in to your Doordarshan local channel to watch experts talk on issues affecting girl child on 11th Oct at 5:00PM.

 

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