International Girl Child Day | 11 Oct 2022

For Prelims: International Girl Child Day, United Nations General Assembly, Sustainable Development Goals

For Mains: Issues Related to Children, Women's Issues

Why in News?

Every year, International Girl Child Day is observed on 11th October 2022.

Why do We celebrate International Girl Child Day?

  • History:
    • First time in history, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, proposed an action plan to advance the rights of girls.
    • In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11th October as the International Day of the Girl Child.
  • Theme for 2022: “Our time is now—our rights, our future”
  • Significance:
    • The day is observed to recognise girls' rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
    • 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.
    • Also, Women's empowerment and gender equality are integral to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
    • The achievement of gender equality is the fifth of 17 SDGs laid out in the Sustainable Development Agenda.
      • Justice, inclusion, economic growth, and a sustainable environment can only be achieved by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals.

What is the State of Girl Child in India?

  • About:
    • According to the recently released report “Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India Report 2021” by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
      • Crime against children surpassed the pre-pandemic levels after declining in 2020 due to Covid-related restriction.
      • In 2021, 1.49 lakh such cases were recorded, higher than 1.48 lakh in 2019.
    • The data published by the NCRB is specifically grim for the eastern states of India:
      • Sikkim has the highest rate of sexual offences against children followed by Kerala, Meghalaya, Haryana and Mizoram.
      • West Bengal and Odisha are among the top five states (along with Maharashtra, MP and UP) which account for 47.1% of the total crimes committed against children across the country.
        • There were 9,523 cases of crimes against children recorded alone in West Bengal in 2021.
  • Issues related to Girl Child:
    • Female Infanticide and Foeticide:
      • India has one of the highest rates of female foeticide in the world.
      • The Census of 2011 has recorded the lowest ever sex ratio of 914 in the age group 0-6 years with 3 million missing girls; from 78.8 million in 2001 to 75.8 million in 2011.
    • Child Marriage:
      • Each year, at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India. Nearly 16% of adolescent girls aged 15-19 are currently married.
      • While child marriage has declined, it has been marginal: from 27% in 2015-16 to 23% in 2019-20, according to National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 5.
    • Devoid of Education:
      • Girls are encouraged and also engaged more in household work and drop out of school at an early age.
      • A study by the International Centre for Research on Women has found that girls out of school are 3.4 times more likely to be married or have their marriage already fixed than girls who are still in school.
  • Related Initiatives:
    • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao:
      • Launched in 2015 with the aim to address sex selective abortion and the declining child sex ratio which was at 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011.
    • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana:
      • Launched in 2015, in order to promote the welfare of girl children. It encourages parents to invest and build funds for the future studies and marriage expenses of the girl's children.
    • CBSE Udaan Scheme:
      • UDAAN is a project launched by the CBSE to address the low enrolment of girl students in prestigious engineering institutions and the teaching gap between school education and engineering entrance examinations.
    • National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education (NSIGSE):
      • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 2008, which aims to promote enrollment of girl children in the age group of 14-18 at secondary stage, especially those who passed Class VIII and to encourage the secondary education of such girls.
    • Scheme for Adolescent Girls: Government is also implementing Scheme for Adolescent Girls, which aims to facilitate, educate and empower Adolescent Girls (AGs) so as to enable them to become self-reliant and aware citizens.

Way Forward

  • Strengthening the Child Protection System:
    • Urgent measures are needed to strengthen the country’s child protection system and to make the police, judicial and legal systems more proactive.
  • Community-based Child Protection Mechanisms:
    • The offenses related to children have a low conviction rate and a high pendency rate hence, boosting community-based child protection mechanisms, such as village-level child protection committees can play a critical role.
  • Raising Social Awareness:
    • Patriarchal social attitudes and prejudices need to be addressed by including sensitisation on gender issues in school education.

Source: DTE