Odisha gears up with action plan to end child marriage within a decade

Shakti Varta Programme, a new initiative, will be launched involving women SHGs to mobilise communities

Published: 19th October 2019 07:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th October 2019 02:03 PM   |  A+A-

child marriage

For representational purposes

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Government is all set to introduce a five-year strategic action plan to end child marriage in the State in next 10 years. The Strategic Action Plan (SAP) 2019-24 aims at strengthening monitoring mechanism to completely stop the age-old practice by 2030.

As per the draft plan, Women and Child Development department has decided to develop a robust management information system to ensure proper monitoring of the strategic plan at the ground level.
Women SHGs will be roped in to lead community dialogue and action against child marriage as well as in related social norms such as dowry, violence against girls and women.

It has been planned to publish annual report on action against child marriage and generate evidence using both primary and secondary data (publications) to demonstrate the benefits of delaying marriage and of retaining girls in school during their adolescence. A senior official of WCD department said a new initiative - Shakti Varta Programme - will be launched involving women SHGs to mobilise communities through participatory and learning action on social and development issues.

“The specific action plan will be to augment implementation of legal and policy frameworks by the State Government as well as influencing community norms and practices through social mobilisation,” he said.
The SAP also focuses on facilitating enrolment of girls and boys in higher secondary, vocational and technical education (ITI/ITC/Polytechnic), providing increased residential facilities for increased enrolment of girls at higher secondary level and provisioning of safe transportation facilities for girls to attend and remain in schools.

Responsive policing through initiatives like Ama Police will be undertaken and mobile apps introduced for prompt action against child marriage. School management committees and communities will be engaged for regular school attendance, tracking and integrating dropouts.

“It has been planned to make girls employable to discourage their parents from early marriage. There will be career counseling in all high schools and girls will be encouraged for sports as a career on the basis of their talent. Market-oriented and livelihood based vocational training for out-of-school and drop-out adolescents will be introduced,” the officer said. As per the National Family Health Survey-4, the prevalence of child marriage in Odisha was 21.3 per cent (pc) against the national average of 26.8 pc.

Malkangiri reports the highest (39 pc) in the State followed by Nabarangpur, Mayurbhanj, Koraput and Rayagada, where over one-third of all girls get married before attaining adulthood. In Nayagarh, Ganjam, Keonjhar, Balasore, Dhenkanal and Gajapati, over one-fourth of all girls are married before 18 years.

Besides tribal customs, poverty is one of the main reasons cited for early age in western Odisha districts. High cost and dowry also contribute to under-aged girls being forced to marry.

Male migration and resultant vulnerability of girls in families are also considered as reasons for early marriages.
The SAP that aims at reducing the incidence of child marriage from 21.3 pc to 10 pc by 2024 will be released on October 24.

Focus areas

  • Facilitating enrolment of girls and boys in higher secondary, vocational and technical education
  • Providing increased residential facilities for increased enrolment of girls at higher secondary level
  • Provisioning safe transportation facilities for girls to attend and continue schools
  • Career counselling will be started in all high schools
  • Girls will be encouraged for sports as a career on the basis of their talent
  • Prevalence of child marriage in Odisha was 21.3 pc against national average of 26.8 pc
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