October 11 is observed as the International Day of the Girl Child. We all know that all over the world girls face unique challenges not only at home but also at schools and in society. There are 1.1 billion girls today, a powerful constituency for shaping a sustainable world that’s better for everyone. Various Acts have been passed by the Government like the Domestic Violence Act 2009, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 and Dowry Prohibition Act 2006 for the welfare of women. Efforts are on to convey the essence of these acts to girls, especially those from the economically weaker sections of the society. It is necessary to remove different types of social discrimination and exploitation that girls generally face in their lives.
Girls should be aware about their legal rights and the facts of life. There is also a need for providing improved public and private transportation for girls for attending schools. As per reports more than 5,00,000 girls are killed in India every year even before they are born. Such practice is prevalent in villages where a majority of India’s population belonging to weaker section resides. According to them upbringing a girl child is expensive. No doubt, over the years, the world has made some progress in improving the lives of girls during early childhood; however adolescent girls continue to face challenges because of under investment in their needs and concerns as they mature into adults.
They are brimming with talent and creativity but their dreams and potential are often thwarted by discrimination, violence and lack of equal opportunities. Why do girls experience inequality in every aspect of their lives? Society should not forget that large number of girls don’t get enrolled in schools, are sidelined in athletics, being discouraged from report assault incidents. Many of them are forced to marry or work before attaining legal age. They are also brainwashed to think that their physical appearance and sexual desirability is of prime importance.
What is the essence of celebrating the day of the girl child if her right to education, health, shelter, name, identity, and survival is not respected? Girls have the right to a safe, literate, and healthy life, not only during childhood, but also when they attain maturity. On this International Day of the Girl Child, let us stand with the global community to support girls’ progress everywhere. Let the day enhance the meaningful contribution of the girls in decision making processes through the active support of the parents and other community members. Let us look at the Girl Child who grows up in marginalized societies and developing countries.
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)