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INTERNATIONAL GIRL CHILD DAY

Lack of Girl Child’s Education and violation
of their fundamental rights, detrimental to equitable growth in India

As the world gears up to celebrate the
second International Day of the Girl Child on Oct 11th, 2013 with
focus on innovation for girl’s education, India is still struggling to provide
basic rights to its girl child, points out leading child rights

NGO CRY – Child
Rights and You.
Even as the United Nations adopted Resolution
66 / 170 to declare a day to emphasise the importance of girl child’s rights,
millions of girl’s around the world face deprivation of rights and are
marginalized, basis their gender. India is faced with grim statistics of female
foeticide and girl child abuse. A UN report recently provided disturbing
insight on how India is the most dangerous place in the world to be a baby
girl.
Violation of girl child’s basic rights
like education in India stems from the amalgamation of the deep rooted bias in
the society coupled with the lack of basic facilities on behalf of the government.
Lack of education is intrinsically linked to the girl child being exposed to
other risks like child labour, trafficking and sexual abuse. Despite various
initiatives by the government to encourage girl child’s education, there seem
to be many more loopholes keeping them away from

schools.

According to a study conducted across
13 states in the country by CRY  and its
partners it came to  light that only 18%
percent schools have separate toilets for girls. This has been one of the major
reasons why girls dropped out of school.

Ms. Puja Marwah, Chief Executive, CRY says,
“The girl child in India faces vulnerability in so many facets that it is
impossible to have a single pronged approach to target the violation of her
rights. To truly bridge the gap we need the communities and the government to
work in tandem and ensure access to education, nutrition, health -care,
protection from abuse and discrimination to the girl child. Empowering a girl
child is a moral imperative of any society and it not just leads to the
development of the girl, her family, and community but also strengthens the
nation with poverty reduction and equitable growth.”
The government’s initiatives like Balika
Samriddhhi Yojana and the Kishori Shakti Yojana have been aimed at facilitating
education and development of the girl child. The lack of social and family
backing and infrastructure will only render these schemes futile.
At CRY, we have witnessed how educating
a girl child helps improve a magnitude of problems on a micro as well as a
macro scale. Educating the girl child, we feel is a major determinant leading
to the equitable growth of not just a community but the country as a whole.  Tackling the problem at a grass-root level by
engaging parents, families and the wider community is imperative for a holistic
change in the lives of millions of girls in the country.
Take the case, for instance, of 14-
year old Kashturi who hails from Adhi dravidar community of Kavarkalpatty
village in Salem district of Tamil Nadu, who faced the dreaded prospect of
child marriage when she had to drop out of school, which was not just 5 kms
away but had no bus facility. Taking notice of her keen interest in studies,
her father, working at a mango farm, got her admitted to the nearest school. Despite
the school not being accessible by bus, Kashturi, determined by her resolve to
pursue education, used to walk down everyday 5 kms to her school.  As it got considerable late in the evenings on
her way back, she started to face stalking, eve-teasing and verbal abuse by the
local boys. Unable to cope up with it, she decided to quit this school. With no
other option of education nearby, she stayed at home helping her family with
household chores. The circumstances and her staying at home idle, compelled her
parents to start preparing for her marriage.
Clueless, she was brought face to face
with the reality of the prospect of being married to a 32- year old man from
the village. Terrified at the thought, she shared her plight with a friend who
in-turn shared it with an NGO which is CRY’s On- ground partner in the region. Coupled
with support from the Panchayat and the local government, CRY supported NGO counselled
the groom’s family on the legal repercussions of their action. Kashturi’s
family now lives near their native village and attends the school which is 2
kms from her home. Had it not been for the intervention and the counselling of
the NGO, Kashturi would have her hands full of household chores rather than
books.
It is rather ironic in a situation when
the parents are willing for sending their daughter to school, the lack of schools;
infrastructure and accessibility are forcing thousands of students like
Kashturi out of school and into the clutches to child marriage, child labour
and even abuse in many cases. The vicious circle leads them to an unjust life
of depravation curbing endless possibilities that they would have otherwise. It
is the collective effort of the government authorities, local community bodies
and NGO’s like ours to ensure that the gaps of gender inequality are bridged by
facilitating policies and changes favourable to the welfare of the girl child.

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