New Delhi [India]: At least 68 per cent of adolescent girls faced challenges in accessing health and nutrition services and 67 per cent did not attend online classes during COVID-19 lockdowns in four states across the country, shows a report by an NGO.
The report named ‘The World of India’s Girls- Wings 2022’ by Save the Children, India studied the condition of adolescent girls amid COVID-19 in four states – Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar and Telangana. It stated that 51 per cent of adolescent girls continued facing challenges in accessing health services post COVID-19 lockdown.
It further stated that 56 per cent did not get time to indulge in outdoor play and recreational activities during the lockdown.
More than half the mothers surveyed perceived that the chances of girls rather than boys getting married early are higher due to COVID-19.
All these four states were selected based on the incidence of COVID-19, child sex ratio, women getting married before 18 years, annual dropout ratio and women aged between 15 and 24 years using hygienic methods during the menstrual cycle among other measures.
Save the Children, India has been liaising with key Ministries and departments to take forward the recommendations of the ‘Wings’ report to influence policy interventions. These include the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Education (MoE).
While speaking on the matter, Sudarshan Suchi, CEO, Save the Children said that the report is aimed at understanding the implications of the pandemic on adolescent girls’ access to education, health, nutrition and play and recreation, and risk of child marriage.
The report aims to bring up the spotlight on some of the topical issues such as girls’ access to health, education, and opportunities for play and recreational activities with a focus on the changes that have taken place in the overall context of their insecurities.
It also includes understanding the coping mechanisms adopted by the families to deal with the increased health and nutritional insecurities, the abrupt decline in learning opportunities, the pressure on early marriages and limited play and recreation facilities.
“We are hopeful that the report will help in sensitising individuals, families, communities, civil society organisations, media and the government around the issues of children especially adolescent girls thereby leading to a catalytic change in making India an equal and better place for our girls,” Suchi said.
In a bid to create a safe environment for women, several initiatives have been taken in the past.
Telangana had launched ‘Safety Clubs’, a special initiative of the ‘Women Safety Wing’ of Telangana Police.
The work for girls’ and women’s safety in public spaces by Save the Children has also received positive reassurance from the Uttar Pradesh government with the allocation of Rs 8.2 crores for the cause.
Its ‘LightUpHerLife’ campaign was endorsed by the Delhi government where it declared over 2 lakh LED street lights in the national capital in an effort to make streets safer for women.