AIR Spotlight - Rights of Girl Child and Opportunities

AIR Spotlight is an insightful program featured daily on the All India Radio Newsonair. In this program, many eminent panellists discuss issues of importance which can be quite helpful in IAS exam preparation. In this article, an interview discussing the “rights of the girl child” is featured.

Participants:

  1. Soledad Herrero, Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF India.
  2. Sonu Sood, AIR Correspondent.

Context:

The article discusses different aspects of empowering a girl child, issues faced by girls and the measures to be taken to empower them.

Background:

  • 29 children have been conferred with the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PMRBP) in 2022, selected from all regions of the country for their exceptional achievements in Innovation, Social Service, Scholastic, Sports, Art & Culture, and Bravery categories.
    • There are 15 Boys and 14 Girls among the awardees belonging to 21 States and UTs.
  • In order to felicitate and motivate the exceptional works of children, a function was held virtually on the occasion of National Girl Child Day on 24th January and also as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
  • During the function, Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave digital certificates to the 61 winners of PMRBP 2021 and 2022.
  • Prime Minister also greeted the nation on the occasion of National Girl Child Day and also said that it is the day to reiterate our commitment and further strengthen ongoing efforts to empower the girl child.

Different aspects of the empowerment of a child:

Education:

  • The first and foremost aspect of empowerment of a child is education be it a girl or a boy. The purpose of education is not only passing on knowledge but also to turn children into all-around developed individuals.
  • Education is also very important in terms of converting members of society into productive future adults.
  • Education also plays a very crucial role in accessing many other rights as well.

Health and Nutrition:

  • In order to advance the rights of a girl child, there is a need to provide equitable access to health and nutrition services, water & sanitation.

Whole society approach:

  • To give all the rights to a girl child, there is a need to adopt a whole society approach.
  • The services by the government for the empowerment of a girl child are not sufficient, society and families should also come forward to give equal status and rights to a girl child.
  • The community should strip apart the gender-based norms and should treat the girl child equally.

Justice:

  • There is a need to give equal access to justice for both boys and girls irrespective of when they are victims or when they are in conflict with the law.

UNICEF and Ministry of Women and Child Development:

  • UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Women and Child Development in various state action plans. Now, there are approximately 175 district action plans for adolescent empowerment.
  • Apart from that various civic engagement activities for adolescent girls are taking place.
  • UNICEF is also supporting the Ministry in the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme that is trying to put an emphasis on making changes on the ground.

Online interactive programs on the Girl Child Day:

  • A series of online live interactive programs were also organized by various Ministries in which the Ministers interacted with young girls and motivated them to have confidence in their ideas and to follow their hearts.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development together with UNICEF celebrated ‘Kanya Mahotsav,’ a festival of the girl child. Union Women and Child Development Minister, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani, engaged in an interactive online conversation with nine adolescent children from different States.
  • The interaction and the digital campaign emphasized, ‘Har Ladki Khaas Hai’, i.e. ‘every girl is special’.
  • Delivering the keynote address, Minister Smt Irani welcomed the participation of the adolescent girls and boys who shared their stories of courage, determination, and hope.
  • Acknowledging UNICEF’s support in bringing forth these voices of children from across India and suggestions from the children, the Minister requested for focus on:
    • mental health challenges faced by children and support the Samvaad program with Ministry of WCD;
    • to bring together a coalition of young girls who contribute to ending child marriage in their communities and incorporate the recommendations for services for children in alternative care and family-based care situations through Mission Vatsalya.

Issues faced by the Girl Child:

School dropouts: 

  • When families are under economic hardship, there are chances of the girl children being pulled away from educational opportunities and getting involved in home duties and caretaking of small children in families.

Access to smartphones and the internet:

  • During the lockdown, education moved to a digital platform. Families with only one digital device have had to make different prioritization among their children on deciding which child is to have access to the internet.
  • Unfortunately, many times families and communities prioritize male children.

Way Forward:

  • Internet in the 21st century has become a kind of basic right and the government should work on providing access to all.
  • The government should focus on analyzing the issues faced by the girl child and what programmatic interventions are needed to resolve such issues.
  • A whole society approach should be adopted so that girl children also enjoy equal status in society. It should be started at the family level, school level, etc. so that girls can realize their full potential.
  • Socialization starts at home. Often children don’t do what they are told, but observe others and behave accordingly. This implies that when parents treat their children equally irrespective of their genders, their children would also imbibe this trait. Hence, parents should take care of this fact so that their children can pursue their dreams and aspirations and enjoy equal opportunities without any discrimination.

Read more Gist of AIR Spotlight here.

AIR Spotlight – Rights of Girl Child and Opportunities:- Download PDF Here

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