Driving Economic Development through Focus on the Girl Child


On 24 January as India celebrates National Girl Child Day 2021, sheatwork focuses on the potential of the girl child

Celebrating National Girl Child Day today, (January 24, 2021) seems to be loaded with high-volume significance. And, interestingly, it cannot be more relevant, today.

One of the most urgent, effective means to drive progress on gender equality, poverty eradication, and inclusive economic growth is investing in young women’s economic empowerment and skills development. But the picture is not all rosy!

Despite growing evidence of the positive outcome of young women’s economic empowerment, there is the dark side that exists. Young women continue to experience blockages and unequal access to education and skills development; and they constantly face barriers in securing decent employment and even opportunities to survive and thrive as entrepreneurs.

Celebrating the girl child

National Girl Child Day is celebrated in India to raise awareness about the rights of girls and to put the spotlight on the inequalities that they face. The aim of celebrating National Girl Child Day is – to lend support and open up opportunities for Indian girls. We know that in India, unfortunately, gender inequality is one of the major issues that need focus. It exists in several areas including – legal rights, education, medical care, marriage etc; and female foeticide is another major issue that has a huge impact on the demographic problems that plague India. At this point, we remember what Michelle Obama had pointed out – “When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.” It does appear that we as a country, need to focus on this and arrive at solutions soon.

So, it seems befitting that the Government of India has stepped in to celebrate the National Girl Child Day. It throws light on the fact that it is an improvement on the mission set for young girls and it also promotes the significance of girls as children.

Initiated in 2008 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the  National Girl Child Day has underlined the main objective as – to highlight the inequalities faced by girls, to increase the consciousness of the people and offer new opportunities to the girl child in the society; to remove all inequalities to promote awareness – including the rights of a girl child; to ensure that the girl child should avail of all human rights, respect and value in the country; and to work on gender discrimination and educate people. Currently, it is seen that gender discrimination is a major problem that girls or women face at every stage of their life.

Educating girls is key to a balanced, forward-looking society

Education is everybody’s right. No girl, however poor, is to be excluded from school. Educating girls has a wide-ranging impact on society, human development and the economy too.

Long-term benefits include: enhanced economic development, to start with, for girls’ education has an even more positive effect, and it leads to ensuring education for the next generation too. Thus, girls pass on multiplying benefits. The multiplier effect is that education has a positive influence in a child’s life from health to protection from HIV/AIDS, exploitative labour and even trafficking. It also ensures healthier families, for when mothers are educated, their children are healthy.

Educating girls is pivotal to the development of a balanced and forward-looking society. Despite many global declarations, it is sad that gender disparity in education continues to exist. So, educated girls, are indeed, a unique positive force for development of the society and the country, at large.

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