UN declared “October 11” as the International Day for the Girl Child since 2012 with an aim to promote girl’s rights and highlight gender inequalities that exist between girls and boys.
In 1995, during the World conference on Women in Beijing, the Beijing Platform for Action resolved to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girl child and to promote the rights of the girl child.UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the international commitment of the ‘World Fit for Children’ adopted by the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Children in 2002, underline the efforts of the international community towards the growth and development of women and children.
Achieving gender equality and empowering women is one of the important targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).Goal five of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to achieve gender equality and empower girls by taking the following measures
5.1 – End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
5.2 – Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
5.3- Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
5.4 – Recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
5.5 – Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
5.6- Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.
5.a – Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
5.b- Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women .
5.c-Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.
India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Constitution of India in order to ensure the growth of the girl child, offers to all citizens, including girl children, certain basic Fundamental Rights including the right to life and liberty, the right to equality, the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right against exploitation, the right to freedom of religion, the right to conserve culture and the right to constitutional remedies for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights. Further, the Directive Principles of State Policy directs the State to ensure that all children are provided with services and opportunities to grow and develop in a safe and secure environment.To enforce the provisions of the Constitution, India has also enacted the following of legislations such as-
• The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929
• Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act, 1956
• The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulations Act), 1986
• Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992
• The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
• PCPNDT Act, 2003
• The Prohibition of the Child Marriage Act, 2006
• The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009
• The National Food Security Act 2013
The following policies have also been framed by the Centre to protect and ensure the progress of children.
• National Policy for Children 1974
• National Policy on Education
• National Policy on Child Labour
• National Charter for Children 2004
• National Plan of Action for Children, 2005
• Policy on Early Childhood Care and Development
• Universalisation of the Integrated Child Development Services
• Sarva Siksha Abhiyan
• Children constitute over one-third of India’s population of 1.21 billion people, which means India is home to 400 million children.
• India has 10.12 million child labourers aged between 5 to 14 years. Roughly 50% of all working children are girls
• In India the child sex ratio is at the lowest it has ever been with just 914 girls for every 1000 boys
• Girls in India have 61% higher mortality than boys at age 1-4 years
• 56% adolescent girls (15-19 years) in India are anemic, as against 30% adolescent boys.
• School dropout rate amongst adolescent girls in India is as high as 63.5%.
• Nearly 45% girls In India get married before the age of eighteen years.
•An Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy.
• Every sixth girl child’s death is due to gender discrimination. Even if she escapes infanticide or feticide, a girl child is less likely to receive immunisation, nutrition or medical treatment compared to a male child.
• 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4.
• 53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.
• Female infants experienced a higher mortality rate than male infants in all major States.