Children were practically considered the private property of parents, and their status never seen fit for public discussion, till the middle of the twentieth century. As children are defenseless and easy to target, they suffer the most in any crisis, be it war, natural disaster or any other type of crime or calamity. Among children, however, the girl child suffers even more, as she faces double discrimination because of her tender age and her gender. In the mid-1990s, instances of reported abuse of girls in the form of foeticide, infanticide, prostitution and sexual exploitation, especially in zones of war and ethnic cleansing such as the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, became rampant. This led to the girl child receiving separate identification as a group for the first time in the Beijing Declaration of the 4th UN World Conference on Women in 1995. In India, the status and treatment of girls in society ranges between inadequate and deplorable, with the girl child being victimized in several ways.
This book focuses on both the development (through enhancement of the nutritional, educational and health status) and welfare (through freedom from physical and psychosocial stress due to deprivation, exploitation and the resultant feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem) aspects of the girl child’s existence. It covers in detail all facets of the well-being of the girl child that are of concern to governments as well as international organizations. It explains in detail the challenges faced by government and non-governmental organizations in implementing any welfare and development initiatives for girls, including the discriminatory social norms impacting programme and policy implementation. It closely explores the differences between the theory and practice aspects of prevalent governmental programmes and policies. In the concluding parts, the book makes several policy recommendations and also seeks to lay out a future roadmap for the well-being of girls in India.