October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child—a day to celebrate and show gratitude to the 1.1 billion girls around the world. It is also a day that aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
For Amrita SeRVe, that means the work of Swastha Kanya Saakshar Kanya continues in full force. SWSW is our campaign to empower the girls of Rural India.
In terms of the statistics for India, they can seem overwhelming at first:
– 46% of rural women are literate as compared to 71% of men.
– 33% of girls are married before the age of 18. This is 5% for boys.
– 56% of adolescent girls are anaemic.
– 47% of adolescent girls remain chronically hungry.
As a result, village girls grow up to be unhealthy mothers and uneducated wives who are unaware about their rights. They are also unaccustomed to properly taking care of their own and their family’s health. The result is that this same vicious cycle is repeated again and again throughout the generations.
But when each of us takes a step forward, together we can move a long way. Actions to support the health and education of girls have started in all of our villages across India. When we began the campaign in April this year, about 1,200 women and men, boys and girls marched in rallies to bring the message to their communities.
This is what has been achieved so far:
– 1581 children immunised for common ailments
– 402 children out of 483 identified as underweight
– 10,337 people have attended health awareness sessions
– 2709 children taught proper handwashing
– 3879 children in after school tuition and yoga classes at AmritaCREATE education centres
Swastha Kanya Saakshar Kanya is the start of a long journey and the goals will not be quickly achieved. But having taken up the challenge, we will continue this serious groundwork in our villages over the next few years. In fact, significant changes in the mindsets of who women are and how they should live have already begun.