UN report hails India on girl child, cites dramatic improvement
India has seen “dramatic” improvements in the opportunities available to the girl child, a United Nations (UN) report said today while showcasing the country as an example to be replicated worldwide for bettering the condition of their youthful populations.
However, ‘The State of World Population 2016’ report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) warned that practices that harm girls and violate their human rights, starting at the age of 10 years, prevent them from realising their full potential as adults and more needs to be done the world over.
“Both India and China, which together are home to roughly one in three 10-year-olds alive today, are among the world’s fastest growing economies and have seen dramatic improvements in the opportunities available to youth,” the report said.
It quoted the International Centre for Research on Women to estimate that India loses nearly USD 56 billion a year in potential earnings because of adolescent pregnancy, high secondary school dropout rates and joblessness among young women.
It, however, also showcased India among the countries whose initiatives can be replicated for worldwide improvements. “But through a concerted effort by governments, civil society, communities and international institutions to learn from and replicate successful initiatives in places as diverse as India, the United States and Ethiopia, the world can transform every 10-year-old girl's future and ignite her full potential,” the report stated.
“In India, there are more than 12 million 10-year-old girls, far more than in any other country. Based on secondary school-progression data, nearly 900,000 about 9 per cent of these 12 million girls, while already having access to basic education, are at risk of not continuing on to secondary school," it added.
According to estimates, as much as USD 21 billion a year dividend for developing countries can be unlocked if all 10-year-old girls complete secondary education.
The UNFPA warns that forced marriage, child labour, female genital mutilation and other practices undermining girls' health and rights threaten the world's ambitious development agenda.
It noted that of the 125 million 10-year-olds today, 60 million are girls who are systematically disadvantaged at the global level as they move through adolescence into adulthood.
Girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at the secondary and university levels, are more likely to be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid jobs.
"The past two decades have also seen extremely rapid changes in the proportions of children attending school; dramatic declines in maternal, neonatal, and infant deaths; and a slow transition to greater gender equality.
"If these improvements continue and we collectively invest in developing this cohort in ways that allow them to maximise their potential, 10-year-olds may well prove pivotal to transforming the world for the better," the report concluded.