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18 % teenage girls forced to work for subsistence: CRY

Friday, March 09, 2018
By Raju Vernekar

While International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world yesterday, a study by an NGO “Child Rights and You”(CRY) has revealed that 18.4 per cent of nearly one million girls in the age group 15-19 years, are working for subsistence in Maharashtra.

It is unclear whether these girls receive a formal education or not. But it is clear that they begin life as a working woman in their formative teen stage. Despite a near 100 enrolment ratio among girls in primary education, around one third of them do not reach the secondary stage and less than half of them finish schooling age appropriately, as per the report (2015-2016) of the District Information System for Education (DISE) of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, attached to the Union HRD ministry.

The work participation rate among the above age group is much higher than girls under 14 years and it is much higher in rural areas compared to urban areas in the state.

Under 14 years (work participation rate among girls (rural) - 4.1 per cent, (work participation rate amongst girls (urban) - 2.3 per cent. Age group 15-19 years (work participation rate among girls (rural) - 30 per cent. (Work participation rate among girls (urban) - 8 per cent.

Apart from a compromised education, a huge proportion of working girls also get married early and begin child bearing. Thus, the cycle of their exploitation and deprivation continues. By and large nearly 40 per cent of working girls of age group 15-19 years are married and 30 per cent of them begin child bearing, soon after the marriage.

The districts contributing the most to working girls in the age group 15-19 years are: Thane, Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar and Jalgaon. These districts cumulatively account for 30 per cent of the working girls in the state. However, more worrisome is the huge work participation rate among girls in Nandurbar (39 per cent), Gadchiroli (35 per cent), Jalna (31 per cent) and Hingoli (31 per cent).

Agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors account for a staggering 75 per cent of the working girls in Maharashtra. These sectors are largely unregulated and eventually these girls end up being unprotected under any formal legal structure. Secondly, due to this a large number of girls are deprived of the opportunity to reach their full potential.

“In large parts of the state, due to gender discrimination, girls are not given access to complete education, due to which they get limited opportunities and they are relegated to low-paid and unskilled jobs. Ultimately they are exploited, undervalued and their potential is not met,” Regional Director (CRY-West)  Kreeanne Rabadi said and added that the state should have a specific action plan to reduce the number of girls working in farming and forests.

Providing schools within their vicinity should be prioritised. Secondary schools should be set up with  incentive schemes like scholarships. The young girls should also be provided bicycles, so that they can commute comfortably.

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