Of late, there has been a lot of discussion around women empowerment and rights of girl children thanks to the growing awareness around these issues and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. Some of the positive developments include women reaching space, becoming commandos in the defence forces, flying the longest flights as pilots, acing sports at international levels, the Supreme Court upholding the reproductive choice of women as a fundamental right, declaring excluding a married daughter as unconstitutional, and stating sexual harassment at workplace as a violation of a woman’s fundamental rights.
However, while we rejoice how far we have come and celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, we also need to reflect and ask ourselves how far we still have to go. Statistics such as 45.8 million (4.58 crore) girls have gone missing in the last 50 years due to the practice of female foeticide according to a UN Report and out of 33 million children out of school in India 40% being girls, give us a reminder. NCRB recorded 4.3 lakh cases of crimes against women in the form of assault, kidnapping, rape, etc., and reported that one woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. Not only this, millions of girls in India still don’t receive enough nutrition, clothing, food, etc., which are the basic human needs as per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, let alone receiving fair wage, pursuing ambitions, etc. These statistics are not mere numbers but many lives living in this situation having to fight those battles every day.
Sanjoli Banerjee is a learner and seeker working to bring both internal and external transformation in the society through her community and activism at Sarthi. She is a student, founder, director, talk show host and an international award-winning activist.