New Delhi, January 24, 2024: On National Girl Child Day, India still faces deeply entrenched challenges that obstruct girls’ education including poverty, child marriage, gender inequality, and lack of menstrual hygiene.
Poverty Fuels Child Labour, Early Marriage
Poverty often compels parents to push girls into child labour or even trafficking, completely denying education. Over 33% girls leave school for domestic work as per UNICEF. Child marriage prevails in states like UP, leading to over 20% girls being married before 18.
The stigma around menstruation means many girls stay home during periods. Inadequate sanitation in schools further dissuades attendance. Lack of pads access also causes school absence.
Sons Preferred for Education
Gender bias prioritises educating sons as future breadwinners, while girls’ education is seen as unnecessary. This disparity impacts girls’ confidence in academics and career aspirations.
Digital Gender Gap Adds to Workplace Barriers
Only 41% Indian women access the internet versus 53% men as per UNICEF. With most jobs now requiring digital skills, this gap further obstructs workplace opportunities for girls versus boys.
The National Education Policy 2020 seeks to empower girls through education but ground implementation needs strengthening especially post-pandemic where girls’ schooling has regressed alarmingly.
Socio-economic transformations are vital to dismantle cultural shackles, deliver sanitation facilities and digital access for India’s girls, thereby unlocking their immense potential.