Monthly Archives: February 2019

#ZeroDiscriminationDay – The Several Facets Of Gender Discrimination In India

The 1st of March is celebrated as Zero Discrimination Day by the UN, as an opportunity to highlight how everyone can be a part of the transformation against all kinds of discrimination, and take a stand towards a fair and just society. In India, gender based discriminatory practices are almost endemic. From being denied access to education and food, shunned into isolation during menstruation and married off early, girls continue to be discriminated against as they make their journey from childhood to adulthood. 

DISCRIMINATION BEGINS IN THE WOMB

Often, discrimination begins in the womb itself. Though criminalized, female infanticide and feticide are still widely prevalent in parts of rural as well as urban India. Illiteracy, poverty and the dowry system are some of the major reasons for the continuation of this abominable practice. The average sex ratio at birth for the entire world is 101 males per 100 females, however for India, ranked 4 for highest female infanticides the statistic is 110 males per 100 females. 

HURDLES TOWARDS THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION

Meena (not her real name) didn’t tell her parents when the older boys started harassing her on the hour-long walk to school from her home in Madanpur Khadar, south Delhi – grabbing her hand and shouting “kiss me” – because she knew she would get the blame, as if she had somehow encouraged them. She was right: when her family found out, they banned her from going back to school, worried about the effect on their “honour” if she was sexually assaulted. The plan now is to get her married. She is 16. [source] Despite the landmark Right to Education Act, literacy and education for many girls in India is still a struggle. The example cited above is just one of the several deeply rooted cultural issues that perpetuate discrimination towards girls across the country, making the right to education difficult to access, limiting their opportunities as they grow into adults. 

NEGLECT IN NUTRITION & MEDICAL ATTENTION  

Often, girls and women are the last to eat at home. Patriarchal norms have favoured men and boys, prioritizing their needs for food and nutrition. A study shows that discrimination kills 230,000 girls under the age of five in India, each year – due to inequalities practiced in terms of sex selection, health as well as education. “Many of the deaths were due to neglect, both within their families and from health practitioners, as well as an “invisible, routine and continued, bias Indian girls experience in food allocation. Studies have shown that Indian girls receive less education, have poorer nutrition and get less medical attention than boys.

EARLY MARRIAGE, AN AVENUE TO REDUCE ECONOMIC BURDEN? 

India has the highest number of child brides in the world. The rates of child marriage are as high as 69% and 65% in the states of Bihar and Rajasthan respectively. Perceived as an economic burden, many communities prefer to marry their girls off at an early age. Patriarchy, casteism and lack of education are only some of the factors that perpetuate the existence of child marriage, making it a grave concern for countries battling inequality. 

MENSTRUATION STILL A TABOO

There are miles to go before menstruation as a taboo and the severe injustices practiced against girls during menstruation can be completely eradicated.  Women and girls are believed to be impure while menstruating and are often segregated during their menstrual cycle. This means not only isolation but a complete lack of access to sanitary hygiene. Recently, when the cyclone Gaja hit Tamil Nadu, an adolescent girl who was isolated in a hut because she was menstruating, was killed when a coconut tree fell on the hut and she could not be rescued. A recent survey in north India brought out that about 30% of the girls interviewed through it said they dropped out of school after they started menstruating. For those who continued school often missed 5 days of school due to lack of toilet facilities in the school during their menstruation. Taboos around menstruation are a result of larger cultural issues that can be changed through a change of attitude and mindset – often the toughest to bring about. 

Women In Science

Happy Makar Sankranti

MERRY CHRISTMAS

A Broken Family. An Unfulfilled Wish To Study. Zannat Becomes A News Reporter.

“In life I must not limit my challenges, I must challenge my limits to make my vision into a reality.” says Zannat Ansari, a 12 year old girl living close to Maratha Mandir in Mumbai. Zannat’s father left home when she was just 10 years old, and she now lives with her mother who works as a domestic worker in the neighbourhood. 

From younger days, Zannat has learnt to live alone at home, despire her grandparents living in the same community. Due to mounting family issues and financial constraints, she was left with no choice but to drop out of school and start helping her mother, a dream forsaken for her. 

Save the children in partnership with Hamara Foundation, met Zannat who expressed her wish to study. She was admitted to night school, where she thrived. She was also trained by the organization on journalism, and become a child reporter. 

Eventually, Zannat started writing stories of children on the streets and got her work published in quarterly newsletters. She was trained on child rights and other subjects, to build her knowledge and make her a more proficient writer. 

 

Making #TheInvisibles visible is an initiative by Save the Children to provide identify and claim rights for children living in street situations, committed to make them visible citizens of society.

Children in street situations are defined as per the Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations. An SOP by NCPCR and MWCD in collaboration with Save the Children. Children in Street Situations are categorised as: Abandoned or Orphan Child, Missing or Runaway Child, Street ‘Connected’ Child / Community Child on the Street, Child begging on the street.

Household Chores. Caring For Younger Siblings. Sonali Crosses Hurdles & Gets Back To School.

Studying in Grade 9 at Tardeo Municipal School, 14 year old Sonali Satkar has lived her life in on the neighbourhood footpath. Her father works as a Coolie and her mother works as a domestic worker, to make ends meet. 

Due to her parents being away at work all day, Sonali was put in charge of looking after her 3 younger siblings and managing household chores. As a result, she was irregular at school and wasn’t receving an education. 

With intervention from Save the Children in collaboration with Hamara Foundation, Sonali was reintegrated into school. Her association with the NGO’s put her in touch with a host of cultural, educational and sports activities that futher encouraged her to want to pursue her education. Sonali is good at a host of things – From football to dancing, she has participated at all possible events and shown great enthusiasm. 

Today, she has been acquainted with the rights of children, and talks about it in her community, equipping people to address and act on violations against children. Sonali dreams of becoming a teacher some day. 

 

Making #TheInvisibles visible is an initiative by Save the Children to provide identify and claim rights for children living in street situations, committed to make them visible citizens of society.

Children in street situations are defined as per the Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations. An SOP by NCPCR and MWCD in collaboration with Save the Children. Children in Street Situations are categorised as: Abandoned or Orphan Child, Missing or Runaway Child, Street ‘Connected’ Child / Community Child on the Street, Child begging on the street.

A Student Today. A Teacher Tomorrow. Jyoti’s Journey In Fighting Odds to Become An Educator.

This young girl aspires to make a change in the lives of people, by becoming an educator. Like Malala, she believes that “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution.” Jyoti’s indomitable spirit pushes her to pursue her dream, by taking small steps, towards change in her society. 

 16 year old Jyoti lives in a very small room in Kolkata with her parents, 4 sisters and 1 brother. Her father works as a carpenter and her mother is a house wife. One of her elder sisters is married and the other siblings are studying in a local school.

This young girl, multitasks to ensure she managed to study and to help out with household chores. Not only does she only offer a hand in the house work, but also supports herself financially by conducting tuition classes at her home.

Jyoti’s home is marred by a host of health hazards. Besides having to share toilets with the numerous neighbours in the society, the toilets been unclean, poorly managed add greatly to her susceptibility towards many illnesses. The neighbourhood also lacks access to clean and safe drinking water, an additional threat to her well-being. 

But, Despite these hurdles, Jyoti remains spirited and motivated to keep going and building a better future for herself. She is an active learner in sessions conducted by Save the Children and Hamara Foundation, on disaster preparedness under the Urban DRR initiative. She has also actively contributed to developing the community disaster management plan along with her peers and community members.

Jyoti regularly attends and conducts Children’ Group meetings, CRPC and Task Force meetings. She has gathered a lot of knowledge about Disaster preparedness, health, nutrition, Child rights and entitlements for children. 

This self-driven girl is adamant on creating good practices for her community to keep it clean, healthy and safe from preventable risks. 

Jyoti is respected by many in her community, for acting as a shining star and giving hope to many people around her, and working tirelessly to overcome dire challenges and change the world. 

 

Making #TheInvisibles visible is an initiative by Save the Children to provide identify and claim rights for children living in street situations, committed to make them visible citizens of society.

Children in street situations are defined as per the Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations. An SOP by NCPCR and MWCD in collaboration with Save the Children. Children in Street Situations are categorised as: Abandoned or Orphan Child, Missing or Runaway Child, Street ‘Connected’ Child / Community Child on the Street, Child begging on the street.

Life In A Zhoppad Patti. Frequent Evictions. Still, Farzana Excels On The Field

For the past 17 years Farzana has been living on the street at Maratha Mandir in Mumbai. She lives at this Zhopad Patti with her parents and 4 siblings (2 brothers and 2 sisters) who migrated from rural Bihar to make a living in the big city. Today, her father is a driver and her mother is a domestic worker who works at 5 households to make ends meet. On an average, her mother earns between INR 3000 to INR 4000 per month.

Every six months, Farzana’s home is demolished by the local municipality, often without prior notice. Due to this, her family lost their belongings several times. Without any alternative, they rebuild a temporary home again and start living there.

The youngest of 5 siblings, Farzana was fortunate enough to encounter Hamara Foundation, a organization working dedicatedly for street children. From there on, her life changed dramatically, and she began working for children like herself. Farzana has also opened up and explored her love for sport, especially kho-kho. She has played on behalf of her school and won various medals and trophies for the same. Despite her difficult circumstances, she remains unstoppable on the field. 

Today, with help from Save the children in partnership with Hamara Foundation, Farzana excels on the field. She has also secured an Aadhar card, that finally helps her get access to publi services. 

 

Making #TheInvisibles visible is an initiative by Save the Children to provide identify and claim rights for children living in street situations, committed to make them visible citizens of society.

Children in street situations are defined as per the Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations. An SOP by NCPCR and MWCD in collaboration with Save the Children. Children in Street Situations are categorised as: Abandoned or Orphan Child, Missing or Runaway Child, Street ‘Connected’ Child / Community Child on the Street, Child begging on the street.

A Home Under A Bridge. Daily Struggles Of Street Life. Yet, Making An Impossible Dream Possible.

“The idea of a building a robust community and helping people has been an integral part of my identity. I will work hard and follow my dreams to become the best at what I want to do.” says the young boy who lives through trying times, but never gives up.

Jalendra Gupta, an ambitious 18 year old boy, living in the city of Mumbai. He lost his siblings in an tragic incident, and is now the only child to his parents. Jalendra’s mother lives in a village in UP, while his father is a truck driver. Being an alcoholic, his father is often out of jobs, putting the responsibility on young Jalendra.

Home for Jalendra is a small space under a large flyover in bustling Mumbai city. Night and day, he is exposed to noise, pollution, vehicular exhaust, poor health and sanitation conditions and also no access to social protection or any basic services. To add fuel to his already difficult circumstances, he is often evicted and chased away from the home he has built, by the BMC, losing his personal belongings on a regular basis. Jalendra has to pay hefty fines to get back his books and study material, to educate himself further. 

Every day, Jalendra has to walk for 15 minutes one way to use a municipal toilet, where he is charged for a public service. Jalendra faces numerous challenges and setbacks each day, but he reads the word impossible as “I’m possible”. 

Jalendra takes his ambition to become an engineer, very seriously. He strives to get good grades, and has done so till class 10. He continues to work very hard to get an even better score in grade 12. Besides being academically inclined, Jalendra also excels at art. He loves drawing and wins numerous competitions. He is also an avid public speaker, motivator and has published his work as a child news reporter.

Jalendra’s association with Save the Children & Hamara Foundation (Partner organization) since his adolescence, has helped him steer in the right direction. He received support for tutoring, and also consistent check for his participation. He also participates in events and activities organized by them, that help hone his skills. He has grown in confidence, polished his artistic skill, worked on his public-speaking, learnt about financial responsibility, and leadership. He also received support for all his medical requirements. 

Jalendra is an inspiring example for many young boys and children. 

 

Making #TheInvisibles visible is an initiative by Save the Children to provide identify and claim rights for children living in street situations, committed to make them visible citizens of society.

Children in street situations are defined as per the Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations. An SOP by NCPCR and MWCD in collaboration with Save the Children. Children in Street Situations are categorised as: Abandoned or Orphan Child, Missing or Runaway Child, Street ‘Connected’ Child / Community Child on the Street, Child begging on the street.

Conversations For Children At The World Economic Forum 2019

The World Economic Forum at Davos marked the first major international political event of 2019. Over 4 days, world leaders engaged in discussions on governance, global economy and the volatilities that threaten the world we inhabit. A marked difference at this year’s WEF was the engagement with issues of sustainable development keeping in view drastic climate change occurrences, education and other important aspects impacting children and childhoods across the world. With Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist representing children at the global forum and demanding action against climate change, it is evident what the priorities of the world leaders ought to be. “I don’t want your hope. I want you to feel the fear I do. Every day. And want you to act. I want you to behave like our house is on fire. Because it is.”, she implores. Let’s take a look at some of the other child rights related conversations that took place at the WEF 2019.

1. HEALTH GOALS FOR THE LAST-MILE CHILD

 Despite continued efforts at increasing the standards of health-care for children across the world, there remain approximately 13.6 million children who do not get even the most basic vaccines. These children belong to the most marginalized societies of the world, left behind and forgotten. The WEF witnessed engagement with issues of how globalization means inclusivity and the urgent need for health-care and related benefits to make it to the last mile, to reach these children who remain excluded despite the world making strides in economic progress.

“…the communities they live in are not just the last to be reached, they are also the hardest to reach. Because of this, a shift in mindset is needed to reach them too. Instead of focusing on scale, we must develop new kinds of partnerships, collaborations and technologies to make that last child our first priority.”

2. THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION

At the WEF 2019, world leaders like Jack Ma took a deep-dive into understanding and elaborating the future of education. Envisaging how children with content with machines, he preempts the need to adapt education to be more inclusive in terms of what has been included within its scope, globally. He emphasized the importance of relationships, curiosity, agility, creativity and empathy and their need to be included in the mandate of education that children are exposed to. A shift from seeking knowledge, to seeking happiness and balance for children to be more enabled in the modern age was highly stressed upon. “If we accept that the role of education is to furnish our children with the best understanding, skills and values for a prosperous and happy life, then how do we arm them for a future that we can’t imagine? Do we even need knowledge in a world of Alexa and Siri? Is the skill of agility now more valuable than the gaining of knowledge?”, were some crucial questions that thinkers and leaders made an effort to engage with.

3. ACTING ON MENTAL HEALTH

An elusive and ambiguous concept for the longest while, mental health for children and adults alike has begun to be slowly included in our overall understanding of what health comprises. An example of this was the proposal for the “well-being budget” by Prince William and Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. To see politics through a lens of “kindness, empathy and well-being”, in order to impact the quality of people’s lives was the underlined purpose of this proposal. The example of the community centered mental health intervention from Zimbabwe of “Friendship Benches” brought to the WEF this year, was a heart-warming example of how healthy community practices can change the understanding of mental health, that has long term impact not just on adults, but children and teenagers too.

“Sitting together on a Friendship Bench in a quiet corner of the grounds of a health centre, our community grandmothers listen and spend time working through problems that could be causing or worsening a person’s mental health, coming up with possible solutions and agreeing a plan of action…And it works. Children went back in school. Mothers and fathers found work. An independent clinical review has found that the Friendship Bench was proving a more effective treatment for depression and anxiety than conventional medical treatments or clinical therapies.”

4. WHY CHILDREN NEED TO PLAY

Play or the lack of it has finally started gaining importance in how it impacts the overall growth and development of a child. The Real Play Coalition at Davos is an example of leading toy makers in the world coming together to stress the importance of play, by focusing on governments, schools and parents who undervalue play. “The simple act of free, self-initiated play helps unlock a child’s innate creativity, imagination, interests and talents… It helps children to uncover who they are, and imparts invaluable skills they will need to possess in the uncertain future they will face tomorrow.”, educator and creativity guru, Ken Robinson. At Davos, it was heartening to see businessmen and toy makers making an attempt to adopt this approach towards exploring the more intimate working of how play makes a cognitive difference to the journey of a child and emphasizing that play matters.

5. IMPACT OF INCREASED EXPOSURE TO SCREEN TIME

Included in conversations on how we assume health care for children was also the detrimental impacts of an exposure to excessive screen time. An article published on the WEF blog explores the impact of exposure to screen time, “A recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that 54 percent of U.S. teens said they spend too much time on their phones, and 60 percent of them consider spending too much time online to be a “major problem.” The data seem to back that up, with today’s teenagers reporting lower levels of drinking, sex and drug use, yet higher levels of depression and loneliness.With screen addiction becoming a disturbing reality with children across the world, it is time to figure out ways to balance access and abstinence from technology so as to enable more holistic childhoods.