Report by Dr Sajad Padder
GDC Khansahib celebrated the National Girl Child Day on 24th January 2022. The programme began with introductory remarks presented by Dr. Syed Tanvir Indrabi, Principal of the institution. He laid emphasis on honourable and dignified life for our girls, dwelt on past atrocities committed on them where girls used to be buried alive due to socio-cultural taboos and customs. Lamenting the abhorrent practice of forcible child marriages, he aptly narrated a couplet.
Dr Indrabi speaking on the occassion
Dr. Indrabi further said: We have come a long way since those dark ages. Now the laws related to abortion, crime and violence against women must be strictly implemented and adhered to. In a patriarchal society women’s genuine rights need to be respected”.
After the inaugural remarks a lecture on the theme “Equal Opportunities for Every Child in India: An Overview” was delivered by Dr. Sajad Padder, NSS Programme Officer and Assistant Professor of Political Science at GDC Khansahib.
Excerpts from the speech by Dr. Sajad Padder
Dr. Sajad Padder remained focused on three areas where there’s further scope for improvement in the life of a girl child with the active cooperation and collaboration between state and the society:
ii. Education &
He made use of both the official and non-official date while delivering his speech. In India, an estimated 26 million of children are born every year. According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) every minute one of those babies dies. Nearly 46 per cent of all maternal deaths and 40 per cent of neonatal deaths happen during labour or the first 24 hours after birth. Early initiation of breastfeeding among just 42 per cent, high rates of stillbirths (5 per 1000 births, (Source: Sample Registration System (SRS) 2017) and many deaths due to asphyxia in Special New-born Care Units (SNCUs) are consequences of low quality of healthcare delivery. The increase in coverage has also been inequitable with 21 per cent (NFHS 4) women – majority of who are tribal and from the poorest households, often in hard to access areas, still delivering in their homes. But the Child Health Programme under the National Health Mission (NHM) comprehensively integrates interventions that improve child survival with thrust areas: Neonatal and Child Health, Nutrition & Immunisation. As a result of such interventions, India has shown significant progress in the reduction of child mortality. Child health has improved in recent decades. India’s national under-5 mortality rate declined from 111 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 39 per 1,000 live births in 2018. Now the focus needs to be on reaching the most marginalized, with special focus on the girl child.
Similarly, education is important for not only a holistic development of an individual, but the society as well. Right to Education is a fundamental right under Article 21-A of the Indian constitution. Poverty and gender-based preference are two of the main challenges which impact girl child education. In many cases, girls are forced to stay at home or engage in daily wage labour to contribute to the income of the house. According to a UN report (UNICEF), every year about 1 million girls in the country are married before they turn 18. They are not allowed to go to school after marriage. Also, in developing countries the lack of separate toilets for girls and boys is one of the top barriers to education.
The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme was launched on 22 January 2015 by PM Narendra Modi. It aims to address the issue of the declining child sex ratio image (CSR) and is a national initiative jointly run by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Education. It initially focused multi-sector action in 100 districts throughout the country where there was a low CSR. These included five districts from Jammu & Kashmir: Anantnag, Budgam, Pulwama, Jammu & Kathua. The programme aims at preventing gender biased sex selective elimination, ensuring survival, education & protection of the girl child.
Finally, the violence against children is a matter of serious concern. India has a fairly comprehensive policy and legal framework addressing rights and protection for children, providing opportunities to ensure that all children have equal access to quality protection services. The core child protection legislation for children is enshrined in four main laws: The Juvenile Justice Act/Care and Protection (2000, amended in 2015); the Child Marriage Prohibition Act (2006); the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (2012) and the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation (1986, amended in 2016). Over the past five years, notable efforts have been made to set up fast track courts and deal with cybercrime against children and women. In 2019, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill was amended, stipulating stricter punishment for sexual crimes against children.
The challenge is in implementing the laws due to inadequate human resource capacity on the ground and quality prevention and rehabilitation services. As a result, millions of children face various protection risks.
After this speech there’s a threadbare discussion on the questionnaire and the findings recorded by our NSS volunteers reflecting the attitude of parents towards their daughters. Based on a small sample of 15 questionnaires filled from different villages of tehsil Khansahib, the following main observations were recorded:
a. Majority of parents give high priority to the education of their girl child;
b. All parents prefer education of both boys and girls but in case of a financial crunch, 40 per cent said they would give priority to the education of their boys while majority were indecisive about such a scenario;
c. Health of a girl child remains a high priority;
d. 80 per cent parents showed preference for private schools for the girl child due to functional and separate toilets for girls and availability of safe drinking water and easy accessibility;
e. More than 90 per cent parents feel that girls are safe in our society but were apprehensive about the use of social media; &
f. About 90 per cent parents spend time with their daughters and take care of their mental health.
(NSS Volunteer conversing with respondents)
Suffiyyah Gull with respondent
Finally, Ms Sumaya Sadiq, Chief Librarian, presented the concluding remarks and the vote of thanks. She summarised the proceedings and laid emphasis on holding such events on regular intervals and thanked the principal, faculty, non-teaching staff and students for making the programmes a success.