National Girl Child Day: Empowering India’s Daughters
In the past decade, India has made phenomenal progress in empowering its girls. Areas such as education and political empowerment have witnessed a positive change. Today, a higher percentage of girls are enrolled in primary and secondary schools than boys. This is a step in the right direction for our country where only 63% of women are literate.
The Government has taken significant interest in empowering women. Initiatives such as National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level, Sakshaar Bharat Mission for Female literacy and several others have been the primary drivers of this transformation.
Another example of this is the ‘Mulgi Shikhli Pragati Zhaali’ (Educate a girl, and the family prospers) movement in Maharashtra. The effort behind this initiative was to increase literacy among girl children.
However, since India’s agriculture sector is still labour intensive, farmer-parents have to choose between education and help on the farm. And who better than their own kids to take up this task?
But we can hope to see changes given the advent of modern agriculture.
To briefly take you through it – Irrigation systems, hybrid and GMO seed variations as well as other modern farming techniques have turned our country from a net importer into a net exporter of crops such as cotton.
If you’re wondering how this is relevant, here’s the answer. These technologies along with farm mechanization, precision farming and other advances in agriculture have led to decreasing the number of people required on the farm and still increasing yield. Given such advances, our farmers will no longer have to have their children help on tea, cotton plantations to make ends meet.
Also, this development will eventually lead to girls going back to school. Parents will no longer have to withdraw their children from the education system.
Now the onus of furthering this improvement lies on us, the people of our country. At Monsanto, we play our part in nurturing India’s young daughters.
Monsanto and AFPRO
To empower the women in rural areas, Monsanto has undertaken initiatives in the space of education, health and hygiene. Together with Action for Food Production (AFPRO), we initiated a sanitary napkin making unit to promote the importance of hygiene for adolescent girls. This unit is operated by women self-help groups.
Monsanto and Deshkal
In line with our focus on children’s education, this project aimed at enhancing school effectiveness and quality of teaching practices to improve the learning levels of children. The project was successfully able to improve school–community engagement and increase parents’ involvement in their children’s education.
Monsanto and CARE
Monsanto in partnership with NGO Centre for Applied Research & Extension (CARE) has also initiated a residential bridge school for dropouts in Karnataka where it is currently supporting 15 girls –earlier working as child labourers to mainstream them back into formal schools.
While there has been marked improvement in this area, there is still considerable room left for more. Empowering our girls is vital, not just for families, but the nation as a whole. We must spearhead the positive shift in equality and education for every single girl child throughout the country. Wherever you can, in your own little ways, encourage a girl to keep up the momentum at school. After all, health, safety and education are her birth rights too!