For women the most straightforward and rational path to empowerment is education! With education comes the immediate benefit of empowered girls who can participate equally like men in the political, social, cultural and economic affairs of one’s country. The benefit of educated girls does not limit to well-establishment on an individual level but it also leads to the depth and quality of a nation’s workforce.
According to a recent study conducted in 95 nations by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) reported that “India can increase its 2025 gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at $4.83 trillion, by between 16% and 60% simply by enabling women to participate in the economy on par with men.” Sadly India records as a nation with one of the world’s largest gender gaps in matters of labour force participation generating a mere of only 17% of India’s GDP. This gender gap leads to condense or no education for girls at all.
The low-slung concern attached to girls’ education in India is much owing to certain stereotypical deep-rooted features of gender relations and biases like:
• Gender division of labour
• The stringent norms of patrilocal residence; village exogamy
• The infamous practice of dowry
• Girls being considered as slow learners, irrational
• Family prejudice towards girls’ education
• Increasing ideology of a male child
• Higher preference for son’s education
• The received idea of men as breadwinners
These factors have only intensified with time leading to girls being deprived of education, their only roadway to empowerment, gender equality, greater financial independence, security and freedom from violence and discrimination.
Hence, India since Independence has made continuous strides to educate her girls and combat burning issues like gender based inequality, girls being confined to domestic thresholds, pressures of poverty halting girls’ education, reduced enrolment rates and high drop-out rates of girls in schools.
India understands that a literate mother can function as a life source for her children as she can help her children identify importance of basic hygiene, sanitation and nutrition. Moreover she can also contribute considerably to her family’s income thereby ensuring financial security for the entire family.
Hence recognising the importance of education for girls the Government has initiated numerous educational programmes and schemes to accord more importance to girls’ education. Six such top education schemes are:
• Shiksha Sahayog Yojana
• Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
• Saakshar Bharat
• Kanya Saaksharta Protsahan Yojna
• Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Yojna
• Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
With these schemes in place, it is evident that the Government is definitely making efforts but it is time that we do our bit. On this National Girl Child Day, we could all work together to educate girls so that they can make decisions and influence community change in key areas thereby uplifting their own socio-economic status.
At Akshaya Patra, we are determined to reach education to every girl child through our Mid-Day Meal Programme. Often, one wholesome meal a day is enough motivation for the child to come to school.
‘Educate girls to nurture society’ is what we believe in and every morsel served is to bring children closer to education.