“International Day of Girl Child” is celebrated globally on 11th October since 2012, whereas “National Girl Child Day” is observed in India on 24th January every year since 2008 with the objective to raise awareness about the rights of girls, the importance of education, health & nutrition as well as to highlight the inequalities faced by them.
The gender discrimination is a major problem that is faced by the girls in every corners of the world. Conservative outlook of the rural people and religious mystification usually contribute to worsening the situation. Misconception still prevails in the present age of digitalization as many parents living in rural areas think that if their daughter gets older, it will be difficult to marry them.
Daughters are ANGLES sent from above to fill our HEART with unending LOVE. The society should also come forward to pack up all social discrepancies prevailing since ancient period. The social evils like child marriage, dowry system, alcoholism etc. are sharp speed breakers in the path of all round development of the girls, which could not be tackled without active involvement of the society. In the age of globalization, slowly but steadily changes in mindset of society has happened, which is a positive sign for girls in getting all their human rights, respect and values in the country.
Violence against girls and women is occurring frequently in the country. The incidents of eve-teasing, molestation, rape, gang-rape or acid attacks have bruised the face of humanity. There should not be any mercy for such type of culprits and they should be sentenced through speedy trial. Domestic violence is also a curse in the society, whose main cause is dowry system and alcoholism. There is law against dowry system, but alcoholism is prohibited in only few states. It has rotten the roots of the society, so there must be complete ban on alcoholism all over the country.
Home is said to be the safest and secured place for girls. But unfortunately, a large numbers of sexual abuses have been done by their relative or known persons, who can be said to be responsible for safety & security of the girls. In schools, guidance has been given to girls regarding good touch and bad touch. Psychological empowerment is also a crucial factor, as from the early day of their life, girls are equipped with a mindset that they belong to weaker sex, and variety of restrictions and binding are designed for them.
Female foeticide is another major issue, which affects the demographic problems in Bharat and other countries. There are also some communities which practice infanticide i.e. the act of killing the girls once she is born. Although it is illegal and punishable, but still it is prevailing in some section of social groups. Unfortunately, for such inhuman acts mostly women, whether they be grandmother, mother, aunty, sister or whatsoever, have been found responsible for various reasons. As per Census 2011, the sex ratio in India is 943 and child sex ratio is just 919, reflecting horrible picture in the country. The decline of child sex ratio from 927 in 2001 to 919 in 2011 reveals that the society is not just depriving girls of human rights, but also depriving them of their right to live.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of United Nations has been designed to bring the world to various life-changing “Zeros” by 2030, which includes discrimination against women and girls too. Target-5 of the Goals is specifically concerned with Gender equality and empowerment of all girls.
Little Girls with dreams becomes women with vision. So, empowerment of girls is must for brighter tomorrow. India has achieved a tremendous success in women empowerment in last few decades. In major parts of the country, girls are no more confined within the four walls of the house; rather they are carrying long jump in every walk of life. They are breaking the boundaries and barriers imposed on them in earlier periods and have established themselves in all fields; whether it be engineering, medical, law, police, pilot, journalist, agriculture or be it dancing, modeling, music, games and big or small screens. There is hardly any profession they are not found in these days competing with men and proving their worth.
The girls must be given the wings to fly, and not the chain & pain to cry & die. In India, the Central as well as State governments has launched multifarious schemes especially for girls to eradicate the discrimination and to provide them opportunity to march forward in life. KGBV under Samagra Shiksha, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Girls Hostel under RMSA, Residential schools, National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL), Pradhanmantri Matri Vandana Yojana, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana and other ambitious schemes of Government of India have added new dimension in the progress of the girls.
When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous. Special emphasis on girls’ education have been given in centrally sponsored educational schemes like District Primary Education Programme-DPEP (1991-2005), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan-SSA (2001-2018), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan-RMSA (2009-2018), Free & Compulsory Education Act 2009, Samagra Shiksha-SS (since 2018-19) and National Education Policy-NPE, 2020. Its direct impact is being noticed as the female literacy rate of just 8.86% in Census 1951 have plunged up to 65.46% in Census 2011.
Several State governments have also initiated ambitious schemes, which are changing the age-old scenario regarding the girl’s discrimination. In Bihar, Mukhyamantri Poshak Yojana, Cycle Yojana, Kishori Swashthya Karyakram, Balika Protsahan Yojana, Balika Utthan Yojana, Kanya Suraksha Yojana, Hunar-Auzar Yojana etc. have acted as catalyst for change in life of the girls. Mukhyamantri Sukanya Yojana in Jharkhand; Kanya Vidya Dan Yojana, Bhagya Lakshmi Yojana, Laptop Yojana in Uttar Pradesh; Gyan Deepika Yojana in Assam; Kanya Ratna Yojana in Odisha; Kanya Anupreran Yojana in Tripura; Ladli Lakshmi Yojana in Madhaya Pradesh; Gargi Puraskar, Rajshree Yojana, Priyadarshini Yojana in Rajasthan; Dulari Kanya Yojana in Arunachal Pradesh; Kanya Prakalp Yojana in West Bengal are some predominant schemes which have been launched for well-being of the girls.
In Indian civilization and culture, girls have highest place in the society. The ritual of “Kanya Pujan” during Dashara festival signifies the importance of girls. With increase in consciousness of the people and offering new opportunity to girls in the society has created background for pivotal changes. The role of girls has been changed from protected to protector. They are no more burden, but are pride of the family. The parents have come forward to associate their daughters along with sons for handling their indoor as well as outdoor works and businesses.
The gender reforms along with awareness in society, the girls must empower themselves to fight against the social evils and gender crimes. They are competent to tackle such situations, only necessity is to ecdysis the age-long conception and mindset that they are the weaker sex.
The International as well as National Girls Day are very apt day to think, analyze and act globally for all the positive as well as negative issues concerned to girls. Gender discrimination and disparity cannot be nullified only through government initiatives. The parents and society have the pivotal role and responsibility to save the seeds of human creation, available in the form of girl child.
(The Author is a technocrat and educationist