January 24 is celebrated as National Girl Child Day since 2008. A girl has to play various roles in her lives starting with a daughter, sister, wife, mother, daughter-in-law and grandmother. She portrays all of them wonderfully without any expectations. A home is no home, which does not have a daughter. Inequality about girl child is a vast problem which includes many areas like disparity in education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, protection, honour, child marriage and so on. India loses an average of 7,000 girls every day through abortions because of a traditional preference for sons. Abortions have also resulted in a severely skewed gender ratio in India, where there are only 927 females for every 1,000 males — far lower than the worldwide average of 1,050 females. In our country, female literacy rate is still 53.87% and one third of young girls are malnourished. No doubt, to address the issues faced by girl child pertaining to their health, respect, education, and nutrition and etc. government has taken various initiatives that has resulted in improvement of their educational status by providing free and compulsory primary school education to them till the age of 14.
Girls can be fulfill their ambitions and age is just a number. To name few, our girls are global champions. Mother Teresa, Sarojini Naidu, Kalpana Chawla, Margaret Thatcher, Pratibha Patil, Indira Gandhi, Kiran Bedi, Sunita Williams, Sania Mirza, Mayawati, Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee, Uma Bharti, Sushma Swaraj, P. T. Usha and many others have made a remarkable achievement in their fields.
Our Constitution entitles women to equal opportunities and rights, but in some parts of the land the rate of female foeticide was high and the gender ratio terribly skewed. Girls are not being sent to school in many places and women face prejudice and discrimination at the workplace.
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 benefit of the female population but girl child continue to remain discriminated and face various issues like sexual abuse, exploitation and child marriage. But it is surprising to know that female literacy rate in India is at 53.87 per cent. The nation is ranked at 4th as the world’s most dangerous countries for women. According to the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau, 93 women are being raped every day in our country. (One in every twenty minutes). India is one among the top countries in Human Trafficking. According to the CBI, 90 per cent of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3 million prostitutes, of which about 40 percent were children who are less than 15 years old.
Girls should be aware of all their legal rights and the facts of life. When we invest in girls’ health, safety, education and rights – in times of peace and crisis – we empower them to fulfill their dreams and build better lives for themselves.
It’s a high time that we treat a girl child equally and give her same rights like boys. Laws are also being amended to ensure that the girls also get equal rights and opportunity in all respects. Let us take a pledge to ensure protection of rights of girl children as a part of the celebration. It is always the word, ‘Maa’ that is remembered while a person falls sick and eve at the death bed! A son is your son till he gets married, but a daughter is your daughter till death.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)