(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: PIB – Empowering The Adolescent Girls [Sabla]

(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: PIB – Empowering The Adolescent Girls [Sabla]

(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: PIB – Empowering The Adolescent Girls [Sabla]

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Empowering The Adolescent Girls – Sabla

The world is home to 1.2 billion individuals aged 10-19 years
generally known as the phase of ‘Adolescence’. Adolescence is a phase during
whichmajor physical and psychological changes take place in children, along with
changes in their social perceptions and expectations. Adolescence is also the
stage when young people extend their relationships beyond parents and family and
are intensely influenced by their peers and the outside world. They are also the
years of experimentation and risk taking, of giving in to negative peer
pressure, of taking uninformed decisions on crucial issues, The vast majority of
adolescents live in developing countries and India has the largest national population of adolescents. Studies
showthatmillions of adolescents today do not enjoy access to quality education,
basic sexual and reproductive health care, support for mental health issues and
disability, protection from violence, abuse and exploitation, and forums for
active participation.

A. Gender-gap in the World of Adolescents

Women constitute nearly half of the population of the
country, but gender disparities in sociocultural spheres have adversely affected
a balanced equitable development. These disparities get reflected in important
social development indicators such as health, nutrition, literacy, educational
attainments, skill levels, occupational status etc. The same is also reflected
in the situation of Adolescent girl.

The Adolescent girls in the 10–19 years constitute almost 47
per cent of the total population of Adolescents in the country. But their
development is fraught with varied problems. Almost 50% of women marry before
the legal age of 18 Years 10% of young men. Overall, one in six women in age
group of 15-19 have begun childbearing. Early childbearing is most common in
rural areas and among women with no education. Around 41% of all maternal deaths
take place among those aged 15-24. 56% adolescent girls are anemic (verses 30%
adolescent boys). Anemic adolescent mothers are at a higher risk of
miscarriages, maternal mortality and stillbirths and low-weight babies.

The drop-out rates among the girls are quite high. 21%
adolescent girls and 8% adolescent boys have no education. Dropout rates among
girls are high largely due to distance from schools, male teachers, sanitation
facilities at school, early marriage and early assumption of domestic
responsibilities etc. While the world expands for boys giving them greater
freedom of choice and opportunities, it contracts for girls and, more so when
they are from groups,sections having biases and practicing discrimination
against girls. T

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He Adolescent Girls (AGs) are shy and find it hard to come
out openly and share their problems and issues with parents, teachers, doctors,
etc. As a result, they either grow without resolution of the issues or get
misguided, being driven by their own perceptions. Adolescent Girls are a core
resource for national growth. Investment in their health and development is
investment in the greater well-being of the country. Considering that several of
these girls are out of school, get married early, face discrimination in
accessing health, education and other services, work in vulnerable situation,
and are influenced by peer pressure, they need special attention. The public
health challenges for adolescents, which include pregnancy, risk of maternal and
infant mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, reproductive tract infections,
rapidly rising incidence of HIV, etc., require influencing the health-seeking
behavior of AGs. They need to be looked at in terms of their needs both as a
group aswell as individuals as they are the productive members of the society in
future. Recognizing the unmet needs of AGs, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment
of Adolescent Girls – Sabla has been launched as a comprehensive intervention
for Adolescent girls in the age-group of 11-18, with a focus on out of school
girls.To begin with, the Scheme is being implemented in 200 districts of the
country on a pilot basis.

B. KeyAreas of Sabla Scheme

Using the ICDS platform, this scheme is reaching out to
nearly 1crore adolescent girls between 11 – 18 years of age in 200 districts
across the country with an integrated package of services. Sabla aims at
all-round development of adolescent girls of 11-18 years (with a focus on all
out-of-school AGs) by making them ‘self reliant’. At the Anganwadi Center,
supplementary nutrition providing 600 Kcal and 18-20 g of protein and
micronutrients is provided every day at the anganwadi centers either as hot
cooked meal or as take home rations to out of school adolescent girls in 11-14
years and all girls between 14-18 years for 300 days in a year.In addition, out
of school adolescent girls are being provided non- nutrition services which
include life skills education, supervised weekly IFA (100 mg of elemental iron
and 0.5 mg of folic acid) supplementation and nutrition counselling, sexual and
reproductive health education and counseling, skills in leadership, problem
solving, decision making and accessing public services. In addition, older
adolescent girls (16 – 18 year olds) are being given vocational training to make
them self reliant. The Scheme also emphasizes convergence of services under
various programmes such as Health, Education, Youth affairs and Sports, and
Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) to achieve the programme objectives. With the
support of community-based frontline workers (anganwadi workers) and civil
society groups, adolescent girls have been organized in groups called Kishori
Samooh. Each Samooh is led by a peer leader (Kishori Sakhi) and meet at least
5-6 hours a week to receive programme services and function as a peer support
group. Every girl enrolled in Sabla are given a Kishori Card, an entitlement
tool to monitor girls’ access to and uptake of the services under Sabla. The
non-nutrition services under the Sabla programme interventions also reach out to
the non-school going adolescent girls through adolescent groups i.e., Kishori
Samoohs meetings. Each adolescent group comprises of 15 – 25 adolescent girls
led by peer leaders i.e., Kishori Sakhi and their two associates i.e., Sahelis.
The Sakhis and Sahelis are imparted training and serve as a peer
monitor/educator for adolescent girls. They serve the group for one year and
each girl will have a term of four months as a Sakhi on rotational basis. The
AGs also
participate in day to day activities of AWC like Pre School, Education, growth
monitoring and SNP and facilitate the AWW in other activities. They also
accompany the AWW for home visits (2-3 girls at a time) which serves as a
training ground for future.

C. State-Specific Initiatives of Sabla

In many states like Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, NGOs are being
utilised for all awareness generation activities and training of the Sakhis and
Sahelis. Once a week, interactions of the school going and the non-school going
adolescents is also organised so that interactions of the school and non school
going adolescents are enhanced and the latter is motivated to join school. Once
in three months on a fixed day i.e., on Kishori Diwas, general health checkups
including measurement of height and weight and referral services are organised
for all the adolescent girls by the Anganwadiworker with help fromthe health
functionaries and referrals to specialised
health care facilities for health problems that need special attention. Each
adolescent girl is provided a Kishori Card which is a tool to monitor the
services the adolescent girl utilises under the Sabla scheme. With the basic
framework of the scheme, State governments have undertaken special initiatives
to reach out for thewell being of adolescent girls. In Bihar, the state
government has clubbed the vocational training of the adolescent girls 16 – 18
years and is reaching out to them through the Hunar scheme of the Education
department, a special state level initiative to empower the minorities, schedule
castes and scheduled tribes. Under this arrangement efforts
are made to provide commercially viable training and develop employable skills
among youth who have atleast passed the 8th class.

In states like Orissa, the state government has prioritized
training the girls in textile craft and has tied up the vocational training with
the existing cottage industries and market linked the trainings so that the
older girls can be  economically independent. Similar efforts are also
being undertaken by the state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In
Gujarat, the state government has rolled out the Mamta-Taruni programme to
ensure adequate healthcare and timely counseling to adolescent girls. The
programme is aimed at providing healthcare to girls who are out of school,
because there already exists a health programme especially for school students.
Through this programme the young girls are also given physical and psychological
counseling for the changes taking place in the body during adolescence.

Every six months, the nutritional status and hemoglobin
levels of the girl are achieved and they are given treatment for anemia if
needed. To ensure maximum participation in the programme, the state government
has introduced a small monetary provision. The idea is to ensure that maximum
number of girls, especially in rural areas, scheduled castes and scheduled
tribes participate in the programme.

The state also gives the ‘peer educator’ i.e. Sakhis a small
token amount of Rs 25 for every meeting so that they bring as many girls to the
kishori samooh meeting as possible, and make them aware. At the same time, the
Anganwadi worker is also given an incentive of Rs. 50 for calling the meeting
and counseling the girls.In Jharkhand, the state government has taken a special
initiative to establish effective linkages for vocational training in order to
build the technical and professional skills of adolescent girls. Linkages for
the vocational training and placements have been established with the NSDC
(National Skill Development Corporation) and 30 local
non-government partners.

The adolescent girls groups are also being linked to the
existing self-help groups so that interactions with these groups can help in
their economic self-reliance. The state government in collaboration with the
Department of Education is in the process of designing a special curriculum
tomainstreamthe out of school adolescent girls into the school systemthrough
specially designed educational courses that cater to their literary needs. The
state government is undertaking steps to link every adolescent girl under 18
with the formal school setup; for which linkages with National Programme of
Education of Girls (NPEGEL) and KGBV (Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya) scheme
have been established. Child trafficking especially that of tribal girls is a
major problem faced by the state.

In order to address this problem, the state government of
Jharkhand, through the life skills education, appropriate vocational training
and enhancing literacy levels in the state, hopes that the incidence of child
trafficking is reduced. In addition, under the Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR), funds are being utilized for creating small library and learning centre
in every AWC. The state has also started a statewide social mobilization
Campaign for Health and Nutrition for adolescent girls, which was inaugurated by
Health minister of the state in a function where all interventions under Sabla
were initiated.Sabla endeavors to haveAGswith enhanced self esteem, improved
nutrition and health status with enhanced skills and the capacity to make
informed choices. Through various schemes including, Sabla, the government is
investing in the health, nutrition and development needs of adolescent girls to
advance their rights to education, health and protection which will help to them
to build a future of gender equality and justice. All this, will in turn help in
building of a self-reliant and confident women citizenry.

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