International Day of the Girl Child: When it comes to gender equality, India still frequently ranks as one of the worst, according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2022. The sex ratio in India now stands at 109 boys to 100 girls, which is a slight improvement from the 1990s. The schemes are there aplenty to help the girls, now for the government to ensure enforcement.
The International Day of the Girl Child is observed on October 11 by the United Nations and its member states to increase awareness about gender inequality as well as improve opportunities for young girls. In India, the sex ratio stands at about 109 boys for every 100 girls born. Around the 1990s, India’s sex ratio had artificially heightened to one of the worst in the world. There were 111 boys for every 100 girls amid rampant female infanticide.
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Here are some of the schemes and programmes that the Indian government has rolled out for the cause of the girl child:
The Beti plans
The promulgation of social programmes like the Beti Bachao Abhiyan along with curbs on pre-natal sex determination, coinciding with rising education and wealth levels, has started to normalise sex ratios in India. There has also been a significant push by the government to support young girls.
These schemes include the landmark and popular Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign. The campaign is a holistic one aimed at preventing female infanticide and foeticide, promoting the education of young girls, their safety and safeguarding their rights like the right to inherit property.
Another scheme is the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, which is a savings-based scheme which promotes and helps parents to save for the future expenses of their girls. These include higher education and marriage. Along with Balika Samridhi Yojana, the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana aims to remove the financial stigma of having a girl child in India.
Other major schemes include CBSE Udaan Scheme and National Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education, which encourage parents to let their girls study for longer and complete their higher education. As higher education is directly related to higher levels of wealth, health and empowerment, educating young girls is one of the most important steps that the government can take to support them.
Menstrual Hygiene Scheme
Supportive schemes that tackle hygiene and health are also important in supporting young girls. One of the more important ones is the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS), which aims to provide sanitary products at highly-subsidised rates to young girls.
As a majority of girls drop out of schools due to their periods, providing education and infrastructure support is crucial to ensuring that these girls continue their education. Schools and homes having poor sanitary conditions or at times not having working toilets is also a problem that girls face, which the government is tackling under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Policies there but what about enforcement
While significant progress has been made on the policy side, execution, enforcement and awareness still need to be increased significantly. Gender inequality is still prevalent in areas like income share, safety and future opportunities. When it comes to gender equality, India still frequently ranks as one of the worst, according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2022. India’s marked history in terms of women’s history also means that the country is one of the least safe for women in the world.