Representational Pic credit:

The Jharkhand State Action Plan to End Child Marriage was released by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Jharkhand in Project Bhawan here today.

The alarming scale of child marriages in Jharkhand calls for urgent interventions on the part of a wide range of agencies. While nearly 38% of all women age 20 – 24 years are married before the age of 18 years in the state, there seems a close association between child marriages and teenage pregnancy. Interestingly, districts that register high prevalence of child marriages and higher proportions of women age 15-19 years experiencing motherhood or pregnancy also account for less than a quarter of all women availing of ten or more years of schooling. 

Speaking at the function Shri Raghubar Das, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Jharkhand said, “Our government is committed to eradicating child marriage and undernutrition in Jharkhand. We will continue to work with UNICEF and civil society organizations in achieving this goal. The Government will soon launch the Mukhya Mantri Sukanya Yojana to support the education of girls and end child marriage in Jharkhand.” 

Dr Lois Marandi, Minister, Women & Child Development said, “Let us all pledge to make Jharkhand malnutrition free and child marriage free. The Government together with UNICEF and other stakeholders including civil society partners is working to improve education and health for all. I call on the media to help spread the information and create awareness about government schemes and programmes.” 

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India said, “Today marks a new beginning to our commitment to children especially girls. With government & people of Jharkhand we will be able to address two game changing initiatives - postponing age of marriage & ensuring adolescent boys and girls are educated, skilled and have employment opportunities. I will like to share three aspirations with the Chief Minister of Jharkhand – (a) we must ensure that rights of girls are perceived as everyone’s responsibility, (b) Parents, communities including religious leaders and community leaders and front line workers see girls as equal individuals; and (c) we must realize that every single one of us has a role to play in making a better world for children.” 

The Department of Women and Child Development and Social Security, Government of Jharkhand has formulated the Action Plan which has been endorsed by all the key departments. It is aimed at empowering adolescent girls and boys and includes interventions such as actions for extensive capacity building of public functionaries, evidence-driven awareness campaigns based on the social behavior change communication strategy, mechanisms for effective delivery of programme relevant for empowerment of adolescents and system strengthening among others. 

Actions under the Action Plan have the following objectives: 
•    promote access to quality education at all levels with a special emphasis on girls 
•    strengthened skill development programmes and linkages to promote financial self-reliance especially among girls
•    develop capacities of duty bearers for improved enforcement of PCMA 2006 and related laws, policies and schemes to protect children and adolescents against child marriage and promote gender equality
•    bring about a change in social norms and attitudes regarding child marriage and the value of girl child in society
•    empower and build capacities of adolescent girls and boys to access services and make informed decisions in matters affecting their lives
•    generate knowledge and data to inform programmes and policies
•    build a preventive environment by strengthening child protection structures and improving the delivery cycle of social protection schemes and services, with linkages to critical services

Dr Sudhir Tiwari, Chief Secretary, Government of Jharkhand said, “Ending child marriages requires a concerted effort of government, law enforcement agencies, communities and young people. Key departments responsible for implementation of the State Action Plan are Department of Women and Child development and Social Security, Heath and Family Welfare, School Education and Literacy, PRI, Rural Development, IPRD, Home and Law. Trainings Institutions like ATI, SIRD, Judicial Academy, Panchayat Training Institutes, Police Training Centers and others also have an important role in implementing the capacity development component of the action plan. Civil Society organizations can support the departments to roll out the activities under SAP at sate and district level.”

Dr DK Tiwari, Development Commissioner, Government of Jharkhand said, “Government of Jharkhand under the leadership of the Chief Minister of Jharkhand with support of UNICEF are committed to ending child marriage. This issue is linked to women’s nutrition, health, economic development and empowerment. The overall progress of the Sate Plan will also be monitored by Chief Minister’s office.”

The programme was attended by children, representatives of NGOs, civil society organizations, officers and frontline workers from various government departments.  

must read