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Epaper Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Editorial

National Girl Child Day: Empowering the Architects of New India

January 23, 2022 10:54 AM

As we celebrate 75 years of Independence, the need for empowerment of girls is an idea that everyone acknowledges as crucial to the growth of India. The present government led by Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a vocal champion of empowering girls. We are witnessing a new India which gives priority to enabling girls with opportunities to realize their potential and demonstrate their leadership qualities. India is transforming from women's development to 'women-led development' and in this revolutionary vision of our Prime Minister; girls have been re-imagined as leaders of new India; with opportunities for realizing their true potential and contributing to the growth and progress of the nation.

In line with its vision, the government has introduced schemes and programs for promoting equal access of girls to education, employment and empowerment. The most important factor in bringing concrete changes in the society is to transform the mindset of the public and the transformation brought about by government's BetiBachaoBetiPadhao (BBBP) scheme is reflective in the society. The scheme was launched by the Hon'ble Prime Minister with an objective of bringing behavioural change in the society towards birth and rights of a girl child. The BBBP scheme shed light on crucial issuessuch as lack of education among girls and female infanticide. The scheme focused on engaging people at community level for defying prejudices against girl child and introducing innovative practices to celebrate the girl child.

The scheme sensitized the masses regarding prevalence of gender bias in the society. The scheme has also ensured in making the society aware of the role it plays in eradicating disparity and creating a gender-equal society. The 'Swachh Bharat: Swachh Vidyalaya' campaign was launched by the government, under which separate toilets have been constructed for girls to reduce dropout rates among girl students and to ensure every school in India has access to WASH facilities Adequate water and sanitation facilities is critical for ensuring girls complete their education leading to their learning, and overall development. The presence of separate toilets and facilities for menstrual hygiene will help girls in attending school and reducing drop-outs.

When our daughters will get access to separate toilets, clean water, and best sanitation facilities in schools, it will also contribute to reduced risk of early marriage. Girls stand on equal footing to boys in all spheres of life and another landmark decision taken by the government to promote girl's education is bringing about equality in marriage age. The Centre recently took another concrete step towards formulating gender-equal policies by raising the marriageable age for women to 21 years. Child marriage exposes women to early pregnancy, malnutrition, and physical, mental and emotional abuse.

The Centre's new decision will hopefully put an end to society's regressive perception of associating marriage with social protection for women and the judgmental values that women should be younger than their husbands. Women have proven their mettle in every field and we want to prepare more women leaders to come forward who in their journey of empowerment will enable other women to achieve empowerment. The National Commission for Women has always taken new initiatives in line with the government's agenda towards empowering girls. In an endeavour to make girls independent and employment-ready, the Commission launched a country-wide capacity building and personality development course for women Undergraduate and Post graduate students.

Under the program, NCW is collaborating with Central and State universities for organizing sessions on personal capacity building, professional career skills and digital literacy and effective use of social media to preparegirl students for entering the job market. We need more leaders in every field and the course launched by NCW will prepare girls in being efficient leaders. The Commission has also been collaborating with Meta and Cyber Peace Foundation for digital literacy of girls through its program, 'We Think Digital'. The project was launched as Digital Shakti in 2018, under which 60,000 women and girls were trained in digital literacy and online safety across India.

The program has seen participation from across the country and has sensitized over 1,60,000 women and girls in its previous two phases. The third and current phase of the project aims to sensitize 1 lakh 50 thousand women and girls. New India has been paving ways for enabling girls with opportunities to demonstrate their leadership qualities. It is a matter of pride that girls are coming forward to play more significant roles in the development of the nation. The government is leading with its women-centric policies and by ensuring better women representation in every field. We have come a long way in our journey towards becoming superpowers but there still is a need to break the shackles of regressive attitudes.

We need girls to come forward and be agents of change in the society. It is our collective responsibility as a society to make sure that every girl, irrespective of her background, receives equal opportunity to prosper and live a dignified life. We must make sure to build a new India where every girl stands an equal chance to become a leader, as anyone else. This is how we will achieve our Prime Minister's vision of women-led development.

By: Rekha Sharma,

Chairperson,

National Commission for Women

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