National Girl Child Day
Part of: Mains GS-1: Social Empowerment
- Celebrated on: 24th January
- Objective: To provide support and opportunities to the girls of India
- Aims towards promoting awareness about the rights of the girl child and to increase awareness on the importance of girl education, and their health and nutrition and also to promote the girls position in the society to make their living better among the society. Gender discrimination is a major problem that girls or women face throughout their life.
- Initiated in 2008 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The typical life cycle vulnerabilities of a girl child in India –
The discrimination against the girl child is systematic and pervasive enough to manifest in many demographic measures for the country.
- For the country as a whole as well as its rural areas, the infant mortality rate is higher for females in comparison to that for males.
- Usually, though not exclusively, it is in the northern and western states that the female infant mortality rates are higher, a difference of ten points between the two sex specific rates not being uncommon.
- The infant mortality rate is slightly in favour of females in the urban areas of the country (as a whole) but then, urban India is marked by greater access to abortion services and unwanted girl children often get eliminated before birth.
- Sustainable well-being can be brought about if strategic interventions are made at critical stages. The life cycle approach thus advocates strategic interventions in periods of early childhood, adolescence and pregnancy, with programmes ranging from nutrition supplements to life skills education. Such interventions attempt to break the vicious intergenerational cycle of ill health.
- The vulnerability of females in India in the crucial periods of childhood, adolescence and childbearing is underscored by the country’s sex wise age specific mortality rates.
- From childhood till the mid-twenties, higher proportions of women than men die in the country. In rural India, higher proportions of women die under thirty.
- Health is socially determined to a considerable extent. Access to healthcare, is almost fully so. This being so, the ‘lived experiences’ of women in India are replete with potential risk factors that have implications for their lives and well-being.
- The multiple roles of household work, child rearing and paid work that women carry out has implications for their physical and mental health.
- In recent years, studies on domestic violence in the country have systematically debunked the myth of the home as a safe haven.
- Violence against women in India cuts across caste, class and other divides.
- In general, women in India are restricted in matters of decision making, freedom of mobility and access to money, though wide variations exist depending on the socio- demographic context.
The schemes and programs meant for addressing those vulnerabilities: The following policy recommendations are offered to address the situation –
- Adopt comprehensive and gender sensitive primary healthcare to address women’s diverse health needs and to overcome the many limitations that they experience in accessing healthcare.
- Strengthen public healthcare. For the poor and the marginalised, the public sector is the only sector that can potentially provide qualified and affordable care. In the rural interiors of the country, it is usually the only sector having qualified personnel.
- Regulate the private sector: For a sector that is the dominant provider of curative services in the country, it is indeed surprising that it operates with so little accountability. The private sector should be subject to controls with regards to the charges levied, minimum acceptable standards for practice, geographical dispersal of services, etc that would make access to the sector more equitable for groups across this vast country. Equitable distribution of services is a non-negotiable and will greatly facilitate access.
- Make the health systems gender sensitive: Health systems should be sensitised to the multiple and interrelated health needs of women and the gendered nature of their existences. A gender sensitive health system will not only encourage women to seek care but will also respond to their needs appropriately.
- Institute community health insurance schemes that would be bulwarks against catastrophic health events. It is imperative that such schemes be need based and cover vulnerable groups in the country and not be a privilege of a few. In a society where resources can be so inequitably distributed within and outside the family, it needs to be emphasised that community health insurance schemes should protect the interests of women.
- Strengthen civil society initiatives that advance women’s ‘practical’ and ‘strategic’ interests, for the two are intricately intertwined in women’s lives.
Measures taken by Government for welfare of girl child:
- Improving sex ratio– Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao Scheme, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act are meant to prevent sex selective abortions and improve sex ratio in the country.
- Female education– Sukanya Samridhi Yojana creates a fund for the future education of the girl child and Udan for higher education of girl child.
- Child Marriage– Prohibition of Child marriage Act 2006 has been enacted to prevent marriage of girls below 18 years of age.
- Health and nutrition– Supplying iron and folic acid tablets, Kishori Shakti Yojana, POSHAN abhiyan, Mid-day meal scheme have been undertaken to provide sufficient nutrition to girl child.
- Hygiene– Ujjwala sanitary napkin at minimal cost under Suvidha scheme will support menstrual hygienic among girls.
- Child labour– The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 has been enacted to make sure girls are not indulged in child labour practices and instead get education.
- Sexual abuse– Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 provides strict punitive action in case of sexual abuse against the child.
- Human trafficking– Ujjawala scheme to prevent, rescue and rehabilitate trafficked girl.
News Source: PIB