11 October, 2020 is International Day of the Girl Child also called the Day of Girls and the International Day of the Girl. In the current situation, girls’ agenda is the new emergency. This is because in India alone school closures have affected 320 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary education. There is evidence of increased drop-out rates which will catastrophically affect adolescent girls. Further entrenching gender gaps in education and lead to increased risk of sexual exploitation and early marriage. We truly stand to lose all the gains we have made in the last decade for our girls. According to reports, only a quarter of households (24 per cent) in India have access to the internet, and there is a large rural-urban and gender divide. Additionally, in rural households (66% of the population), only 14.9% had access, and in urban households, only 42% had access. Further, male members are the primary users: Only 16% of women had access to mobile internet, compared to 36% of men. Girls, in addition to discrimination, are facing the impact of the digital divide more now than ever.
We are rewriting the new normal for the girls in the most marginalized communities, living on the streets and in slums, the girls of migrant workers, the girls belonging to displaced communities, have all been set back tremendously. Gains made for women and girls over decades, today, are at risk of being lost to lockdown. We must speak out for girls and at-risk communities.
Bal Raksha Bharat And Girls Agenda
- Bal Raksha Bharat launched the World of India’s Girls 2018. A study on the perception of girls’ safety in public spaces highlighting a third of India’s girls fear sexual abuse and violence in public spaces with 6 out of 10 feel unsafe. They fear harassment and violence in dark unlit streets and lanes. Drawing from the research, Bal Raksha Bharat launched their campaign their girl safety campaign called #LightUpHerLife in collaboration with Yuvaa and scores of partners who joined the campaign to make public spaces safe for every girl everywhere by lighting up streets and dark areas.
- With growing online abuse and violence against women and girls during the pandemic Bal Raksha Bharat in collaboration with Breakthrough, Yuvaa and several other influencers to spotlight the issues concerning online safety lending support to the campaign #IndiaAgainstAbuse led by two actors Sayani Gupta and Maanvi Gaagroo.
- With the pandemic impacting girls adversely and distinctively our campaign efforts will bring spotlight the various aspects including girls education, ending child marriage and harnessing and emphasizing the role of bystanders in ensuring the safety of girls online and offline.
What Does Bal Raksha Bharat Wants To Achieve?
Girls in the most marginalized communities, living on the streets and in slums, the girls of migrant workers, the girls belonging to displaced communities, have all been set back tremendously. Gains made for women and girls over decades, today, are at risk of being lost to lockdown. We must speak out for girls and at-risk communities.
The Internet is a public platform and has become an expanded definition of the new ‘public’ space’, viewed as an open, transparent, democratic and equal platform used by all sections of society. Social media forms a large part of our professional and personal lives, but with it, comes digital harassment and targeted abuse putting women, girls and children at risk. The same protection we employ to keep our surroundings safe and safeguard our civic society is also required for our digital neighbourhoods.
As the world prepares to unlock itself. We ask you to join us to Rewrite the New Normal for Girls and unlock the potential that girls stand to be denied, now more than ever.