*Representational Picture Courtesy-kmwagri.com

When International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March,2018,the theme is going to be : "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. 

In fact,this year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change.

International Women’s Day 2018 is an opportunity to transform this momentum into action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.

On International Women’s Day is observed to draw attention to the violence against girls and women around the world, the stigma faced by survivors and the lack of information about support services. 

Violence against girls and women is a wide-spread social problem, driven by social norms and attitudes which condone violence; socio-economic disparities; and inefficient protection laws and systems. The consequences of violence on a child’s emotional, intellectual and physical development are immense. The protection of children from violence is a fundamental right enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr. Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of UNICEF Jharkhand says, “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012 focuses on the prevention of child sexual abuse and lays down child friendly structures and procedures for the survivors of such abuse. 

In Jharkhand, 1818 cases have been registered under POCSO Act from 2014 to 2017. There is a need to establish a model special court, a medical examination centre and a cadre of support persons.

Regular sensitization and capacity building of the key duty bearers like judges of Special Courts, doctors, Special Public Prosecutors, Child Welfare Committee, District Child Protection Unit and Special Juvenile Police Unit will help translate these guidelines /polices /rules into practice. One Stop Crises Centre has been established by the Department of Women & Child Development (DWCD) in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad to provide services to women survivor of violence under one roof.”

Key messages:  

Millions of girls and women around the world suffer sexual violence. Fear, social stigma, or a lack of resources prevent most girls from telling anyone. In some countries, less than 1% get professional help. This reality is unacceptable.

  • Many girls who experience sexual violence keep their abuse secret and never seek help. We must speak out and help us end the silence and stigma around sexual violence.
  • A different reality is possible and all around the world people are working tirelessly to end violence.
  • Everyone has a role to play in ending violence. Speak up when you see violence against girls and women.
  • In many places, girls don’t know where to get professional help, or services are lacking.
  • Call on the Government to invest more in the prevention of sexual violence and support services for survivors of sexual abuse and violence.
  • Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls are at the centre of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development approved by the UN Member States on 25 September 2015. 

The Agenda positions the Beijing Platform for Action as a foundational framework for sustainable development with governments committing to work to significantly increase investments to close the gender gap, to strengthen support for gender equality institutions at all levels, and to systematically mainstream gender perspectives in the implementation of the Agenda.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says, “Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income. When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies.”

He adds, “Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs.”

UNICEF strongly believes that empowerment of women is the key to human, social and economic development. Substantial progress has been made on most indicators relating to survival and development of women and girls in Jharkhand in the last 10-12 years, but much more needs to be done.

Sex Ratio: The overall sex ratio in the State has improved from 941 females per 1000 males in 2001 to 1002 females per 1000 males (NFHS-4, 2015-16).  However, the child sex ratio for 0-6 years declined from 965 girls for 1000 boys to 919 girls for 1000 boys during the same period. In Rural Jharkhand the child sex ratio declined from 973 in 2001 to 926 in 2016, and sex ration in urban area improved slightly from 870 in 2001 to 893 in 2016 (NFHS-4).

Literacy: Although the female literacy in Jharkhand has increased from 39% in 2001 to 59.9% in 2015 (NSS 71st round), but it is still lower than national average of 67.1%. In rural Jharkhand it is 55.2% as against national rural average of 61.3% and 77.5% in urban Jharkhand as against national average of 80.8%.

Education of Girls:  There has been considerable improvement in the enrolment of girls in schools in class 1-8.  Almost all girls in the State are now enrolled in class 1-8 in schools.  The net enrolment ratio for girls at secondary level is 51.32% which is slightly lower then national average 51.92%.

Infant Mortality of girls:  The infant mortality rate of girls (and also boys) in Jharkhand has reduced by more than half in the last 12 years.  It reduced from 79 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 31 in 2016 (SRS bulletin), in rural Jharkhand the girl child mortality rate is 34 whereas in urban area it is 20 per 1000 live births.

Malnutrition: All indicators on malnutrition including under-weight, stunting and wasting have improved. There is a decline of 4.5% in level of Stunting (NFHS-4) during 2005 and 2015, 3.3% decrease in level of wasting and 0.4% decline is reported in status of severe wasting in Jharkhand (NFHS-4). There is highest decline of about 8.7% for underweight in Jharkhand (NFHS-4) during 2005 and 2015.

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