Despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal rights to men and women, gender disparity remains a sad reality in India. The deeply rooted patriarchy still dominates Indian society. According to a UNICEF report, though globally, girls have higher survival rates at birth and are more likely to participate in preschool, India is the only large country where the mortality rate and the school dropout rate of girls are more than boys.
In India, the social status of girls remains poor, and they have limited access to food, health facilities, education, information, and other services. Women suffer from forced marriage, female foeticide, and infanticide, domestic violence, unequal opportunities in employment, etc. Gender equality is crucial for the development of society and immediate actions are required to empower women and encourage them to break these social barriers.
Education is the key
Education is the most powerful tool for the empowerment of women. Women’s consciousness of their social and legal rights, financial independence, decision-making capability, and better social communication skills could improve their position in society. There is no other better way than education to achieve these.
A highly literate society could unlock the greatness of a nation and could lead to a better future. But in India, even today, access to education is a privilege, not available to everyone. A collective effort is required to ensure education for poor students and girls. Education has the power to remove all social inequalities and provide opportunities for an individual to achieve their fullest potential.
This blog discusses some of the key solutions to break the barriers to girl child education.
1. Private-public partnership in creating and maintaining educational infrastructure.
Lack of infrastructure is a major drawback in the education system. Shortage of teachers, commuting hurdles, and limited access to books and study materials often lead to the dropout of girl students from primary and secondary school levels. In many parts of the country, students have to travel long distances to reach their schools. The concern of safety and travel expenses discourages them and their parents to continue schooling.
The quality of education imparted is also affected due to a shortage of teachers, computers, libraries, and other infrastructure. Unhygienic toilets and the unavailability of drinking water in schools affect the health of the students and affect their attendance.
A private-public partnership could bring more donations for education and finance the expenses to improve the infrastructure facilities. With the support of qualified people who are interested in education donations, institutions could overcome the shortage of teachers. Starting new schools in remote villages with help of NGOs for children could bridge the gap between literacy rates in urban and rural areas. This could also reduce the commuting hurdles of girls and encourage them to attend classes more often as the facility is available at the nearest.
2. Create awareness to reduce early marriages and teenage pregnancy.
Gender stereotyping has always kept barriers to girls’ dreams and passion. Traditionally, women have been confined to the four walls of a house. In a patriarchal society, marriage and household duties are considered as the ultimate goal of a girl’s life. With a prevalent system of dowry still being a part of the marriage customs, parents are hesitant to spend money on girls’ education.
Governments need to step up their counseling programs for parents with the support of NGOs, local self-bodies, and activists to create awareness among parents about the importance of girl education. Parents should have the knowledge of the health risks of teenage pregnancy and thus need to discourage early marriage systems.
3. Efficient implementation of laws to protect the rights of women.
The Constitution of India ensures equal rights for men and women in the country. But India still lags behind in providing equality for all genders. Even if the law forbids child marriage, such practices are common in different parts of the country. Even if the right to education is a fundamental right, quality education is still unavailable to many children across the country. Society often fails to protect children from injustices like child labor and campaigns like education for poor children remain on paper.
Governments must ensure the strict implementation of laws protecting girls from child marriage, child labor, the dowry system, abuse, and discrimination. Legislate efficient laws to ensure women get equal access to education with boys and could acquire minimum qualifications before marriage. Encourage married women and mothers to continue their studies and build a career for financial independence.
4. Policies for the expansion of girls’ education.
The government has implemented various schemes to promote girls’ education and many of them have helped to improve women’s literacy in the country. Some of the present programs involve Beti Bachao Beti Padoa, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), Mid-day Meal Yojana, etc. Beti Bachao Beti Padao aims to address the declining child sex ratio in India and to encourage the empowerment of women. SSA aims to ensure the universalization of elementary education in a time-bound way. The primary objective of the mid-day meal scheme is to address the issue of malnutrition among children. Efficient execution of these schemes through better budget allocation and launching of supportive measures are required for further expansion of girl child education.
5. Encouraging community participation
Active community participation could boost the efforts toward girls’ child education. Governments could utilize food NGOs to ensure hygienic and nutritious food is served under the mid-day meal program. People could volunteer with different institutions working for the improvement of girls’ literacy and can also make child education donations. Local self-bodies, charitable societies, and NGOs could play a significant role in the development of the country through women empowerment. A collective effort from common citizens could address the challenges like shortage of teachers, libraries, study materials, and other infrastructure.
Donate to child education
The development of a nation is closely related to girl child education and women empowerment. Many institutions and NGOs like Annamrita are supporting government programs for better child education. Community support and participation can provide great strength to these efforts and the advancement of girl literacy. Make education donations and join the efforts of empowering women for a better future.