CHENNAI:Nearly 40 per cent of girls across India aged 15-18 drop out of education according to a recent report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). A majority of the girls who drop out, however do not end up earning; they are forced to perform household chores or even resort to begging, the report claims.
Across India, 39.4 per cent girls aged 15-18 years drop out of school and college. “In other words, around 65 per cent girls who do not attend any educational institution are either engaged in household activities, are dependents or are engaged in begging, etc,” the report said.That is, only a third of all girls who drop out earn money through work.
The proportion of boys in the same age group, who drop out of education, is not far behind at about 35 per cent. However, only a third of drop-out boys are “non-workers.” This means that twice as many boys are “skilled” compared to girls of their age.The commission said that this report was aimed not only at emphasising the drop-out ratio, but also at showing how most girls in the 15-18 age bracket are “left out of India’s current skill development programme”.
The Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)-SABLA is the only government scheme in India that provides for vocational as well as life skills training of out-of-school adolescent girls. While most other programmes cater to boys.“Adolescence is an important transition phase and girls are not allowed to be involved in any kind of constructive work important for development of our nation and are confined to household work,” said Priyank Kanoongo, from the Education Division of the NCPCR.
Stating that India’s formal education system does not provide the skills that children require to earn a livelihood, the report added, “adolescent girls in India are especially disadvantaged given their low enrolment rate and educational attainment levels. They are among the most economically vulnerable groups who typically lack access to financial capital and have more limited opportunities to gain the education, knowledge, and skills that can lead to economic advancement.” It pointed out that adolescent girls also lack support from society and are bogged down by “community social norms that create barriers to their economic advancement”.
“Given the complex nature of the adolescent group, it is important to recognise that no single sector can influence the entire range of factors that impact the situation of adolescents girls in India. It is important to acknowledge the importance of a multi-dimensional approach and the importance of a holistic perspective,” said Stuti Kacker, chairperson for NCPCR.
The trend where women are seen as less employable travels from adolescents to even adults. The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 too re-affirms the trend that employment of women are lesser than men. Women aged 15-49 are about half as likely as men in the same age group to be employed: 43 per cent, as opposed to 87 per cent of men.
Employment declines sharply by wealth for women, irrespective of marital status, according to the survey. For example, among currently married women, the percentage of the employed declines from 62 per cent for women in the lowest wealth quintile to 22 per cent for women in the highest wealth quintile. Employment also declines by wealth for men, but only from 94 per cent for those in the lowest wealth quintile to 79 per cent for those in the highest wealth quintile. This shows that economic needs are a major driver of women’s employment.
The survey also shows that women who have no education are much more likely to be employed than women with education, irrespective of education level. However, it is notable that employment, after first declining with years of education, increases with the higher level of education. “This suggests that while low levels of education do little to enable women’s employment, higher levels contribute to women’s increased labour force participation,” the survey suggested.
While being skilled plays a significant role in how employable a woman or a girl is, social perceptions and stigma play a larger role. Women across age groups are less likely to be employed, despite possessing similar skills to their counterparts, the survey shows. Women’s access to resources including media, health care, and money that they control is greatly circumscribed.
In addition, only a minority of women are allowed to go alone to various places outside the home. Overall, women are over-represented in poorer households and under-represented in wealthier ones, making it hard for empowerment through employment.