Many schemes and policies are introduced by the Indian government, for providing various privileges and benefits to the citizens. One such plan of action, formulated by the Government of India is the NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE GIRL CHILD. It is specially made for the protection and promotion of the girl child in many fields.
As women are the backbone of our society, though appreciated and sincerely admitted for the same or not is not an issue to be discussed here. But for building up a strong nation, it’s an important goal to achieve that all children have sufficient opportunities to grow up in an environment, which is free from abuse, violence, poverty, exploitation, negligence etc. It’s a policy, which is made under the Indian Constitution, committed for the welfare and development of children, especially girl children. India is among the first group of countries along with other countries in the African continent, which aimed at focusing on the ‘girl child’ for building and strengthening the growth of a nation.
The legislature works continuously and efficiently to prepare such measures which are helpful in ensuring safeguards and protection to vulnerable girl children in our country. The Government of India is raising awareness about the status of girl children in a family, by treating the girl child as a special concern. By analysing the statistics on the datasheets about the number of girls taking birth in our country, the grave need to protect girl children is deeply felt. Reports were created on the national study on the girl child in a family, both at state and national levels. It depicted the increasingly decline in the girl sex ratio and growing problem of female infanticides, which further paced up and strengthened the work in this regard by various authorities.
There are many detects in providing girls with proper basic nutritious diets and healthy life, on the part of the government. No proper education and opportunities for continuation of education of girls are strictly adapted by the government. Least or no information about rights, opportunities, socialization forums etc are provided to girls. Though the government is trying to cover up all the different types of leftover areas by establishing many new schemes and policies, mere creation doesn’t solve the problem here. These have to be abided and implemented seriously. Some policies or schemes Launched by the government are :
1- BETI BACHAO BETI PADHAO (2015) scheme
2- MISSION INDRADHANUSH (2015)- to encourage the universal immunization program
3- NEWBORN ACTION PLAN (2014)- implementing and addressing neonatal mortality
On detailed research, a national plan of action, exclusively meant for girl children was established in 1992. It was made for the ‘survival, protection and development of the girl child’. The plan aimed at recognising rights of a girl child to healthy and nutritious food, equal opportunity to be free from hunger, free from illiteracy, ignorance , exploitation etc.
The main objectives under the action plan are:
- Reduction in the number of deaths of girls under the age of 5 years, by providing better health facilities and ensuring proper immunization for serious illness.
- Preventing female infanticides and banning sex determination of unborn child.
- End gender inequality in infant mortality rates, reducing malnutrition and expanding nutritious diet structures for children.
- Reduce malnutrition by half and provide additional supplements to adolescent girls in helping them cope up with many changes occurring in their bodies.
- Providing safe drinking water to all
- National policy for children 2013 reaffirmed the constitutional pledge for ensuring properly developed facilities and opportunities to children at large.
- It provides a road map / blueprint to link the different objectives of policies with actions to be taken in its regard.
Other initiatives driven by the government are:
- Policy drafting for elimination of discrimination against and girls and violation of rights of the girl child.
- Focusing on analysing statistics and data of girls who are school dropouts and fall under the age of 11-18years to meet the needs of self development , nutrition, health , education , illiteracy and skill formation.
- Social animation schemes, advertisements etc are used for widespread knowledge about the different beneficial schemes for girls by the government.
- Creating awareness and imparting knowledge about the need to protect girl child and adolescent girls from assault, exploitation and physical abuse.
- Education and sensitization of male members of family to the special needs of a girl child.
- Providing relief to many economically and socially deprived girls, belonging to special groups.
- Ensuring equal treatment, proper respect and dignity for girl children in families, community etc.
- For the victims of exploitation (adolescent girls), establishing rehabilitation services and work in their progress.
- Protecting girls from prevailing social evils like dowry, child marriages, prostitutes, rapes, molestation, assault etc by means of proper legislation and its enforcement.
- Many centre based instructions are being followed adherently, training camps, hand on learning and experience sharing etc are used as modes of addressing people about health issues etc to improve their capabilities.
- Aiming at providing skill development techniques and opportunities to girls.
- The national nutritional policy (1993) recognised adolescent age as a special period for a multi-sector nutritional needs in females
- To accelerate the progress in prevention and control of various micronutrient deficiencies, especially vitamin A and iron in women, free supplies of medicines and supplements is provided to girls and women by many health centers.
- The ‘Asha’ at anganwadi and primary health centers are also assigned to distribute medical supplies of sanitary napkins, vitamin A, iron and other essential information among the various age groups of girls and women , to spread awareness.
- Distribution drives of providing dry ration in different states as per their policies, to girls at special intervals.
- Enabling proper checks and preventive steps to Stop misuse of pre-natal diagnostic techniques and ban female foeticide.
- Launching the BALIKA SAMRIDDHI YOJANA (1997) to raise the overall status of girl children by changing the community’s attitude towards girl children and their mothers.
- Providing monetary sum to the mother of a girl child, as a symbolic gift from the government as a post delivery grant. The sum provided varies from state to state.
- Providing annual scholarships to needy girls and assistance on income generation activities till they attain age of majority.
- The national policy on education, 1986 targeted gender imbalances as obstacles in providing universal primary education and increasing enrollment of girls in schools .
- Providing free schooling, textbooks, uniforms, scholarships to meritorious girl students, are also done in many states.
- Providing complete fee exemption under ‘one girl child’ category to girls in educational institutions.
- Providing quotes to girls for admission in different courses in many states.
- Strengthening law for various crimes against women are continuously made and amended like for indulging girls in prostitutes, following child marriages, sexual harassment of girls below the age of 12, 16, 18 and even major girls, women trafficking etc
- Providing adolescent girls schemes, sub schemes of ICDS, child survival and safe motherhood programme, universal immunization programme, special health checkup schemes for primary school girls, health cards facility for mother and child, mid day meal schemes for schools, etc
- Establishing many banking schemes for girl child, their education, loan opportunities, student loans, and other yojanas for benefit to girls and are being run very productively by the government.
The future of our country depends upon the development of our children. It’s very essential to provide them with all the possible opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. A multi-sectoral approach is required towards realising the rights of girl child and to identify the key areas of concern for proposing and drafting comprehensive strategies for their upliftment. Such policies are initiatives to further strengthen and modify the already prevalent as well as newly introduced schemes and programmes for development of girl child. Many such programmes and policies take into account the sustainable (long term) development goals and provide directions towards achieving them in coordination with various other policies and its actions.
We all have a crucial role to play as a responsible citizen towards our society and nation. It’s everyone’s duty to put efforts in creating a better world for our children and coming generations. All efforts shall be made to make the vision and aims directed under the action plan become a reality. It’s very essential to provide a stable, safe, conductive, opportunistic and protected environment for our children to grow and flourish. All citizens have to make combined efforts to ensure that all children and especially the girl child are capable to achieve their fullest potential and are able to contribute in a very productive and fruitfully beneficial manner in the betterment, upliftment and overall progress of our nation.
“The views of the authors are personal“