October 11: The International Day of the Girl Child

TNI Bureau: The International Day of the Girl Child promotes girls’ rights and highlights gender discrimination that still exists in many part of the World. It is a UN observance that is annually held on October 11.

A series of events and actions are taking place throughout the world to draw attention to this critically important issue. The event is an opportunity for organizations and people to raise public awareness about sufferings and plight of girls in various forms and degrees.

UNICEF, on the first”International Day of the Girl Child Day,” focuses on ending child marriage. It says child marriage is a fundamental human rights violation that affects all aspects of a girl’s life. In partnership with governments, civil society and UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, UNICEF is laying the groundwork to end child marriage globally.

In India, large numbers of girls marry before their 18th birthday. However, child marriage has declined nationally and in nearly all states from 54 per cent in 1992-1993 to 43 per cent in 2007-2008, but the pace of change is very slow.

In terms of the gender inequality index (GII), India with a value of 0.617 ranks 129 out of a total of187 countries as per HDR 2011. The GII capturesthe loss in achievement due to gender disparities inthe areas of reproductive health, empowerment, andlabour force participation with values ranging from 0(perfect equality) to 1 (total inequality). The GII valueof 0.617 indicates a higher degree of gender discrimination in India compared to countries likeChina (0.209), Pakistan (0.573), Bangladesh (0.550), Bhutan (0.495), and Sri Lanka (0.419).

The government has started several schemes and initiated many new policies for the welfare and development of girl children to secure gender equality in various aspects of social, economic, and political life.The major schemes are Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), Ujjawala etc. The RGSEAG aims at empowering adolescent girls in the age group of 11-18 years by bringing improvement in their nutritional and health status and upgrading various skills like home skills, life skills, and vocational skills. While Ujjawala aims at prevention of trafficking with five specific components prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration, and repatriation of victims.

The Government must accelerate progress and dedicate resources for girls to claim their rights and realize their full potential. Education is one of the most effective strategies to protect and empower girls through active support and engagement with parents, families, and the civil society.

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