Save the Children, India (also known as Bal Raksha Bharat) highlighted the disproportionate impact of the ravaging COVID-19 on girls, with a focus on populations in urban slums through a research-led study. The report – THE WORLD OF INDIA’S GIRLS – WINGS 2022 – themed Spotlight on Adolescent Girls amid COVID-19 was launched earlier this month. The report revealed the situation of girls during, and post the first pandemic induced nation-wide lockdowns in India, which has only worsened with the multiple mutations and successive waves of the COVID-19 virus since then.
The study unfolds the repercussions on girls’ access to health, education, and opportunities for play and recreation with a focus on the changes that have taken place in the overall context of their insecurities. It also includes understanding the coping mechanisms adopted by the families to deal with the increased health and nutritional insecurities, the abrupt decline in learning opportunities, the pressure on early marriages, and limited play and recreation facilities. It also captured the voices of adolescent girls, to describe the changes that have occurred in their lives. The findings are paramount to framing an appropriate response to build back better by way of formulating recommendations to all stakeholders #allyoupforher. These will enable the policymakers and implementers to take informed long-term strategic measures to safeguard and uphold the rights of girl children.
With the aim of making effective and wide changes, the study was conducted in four states – Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Telangana, representing the four geographical zones (East, West, North and South).
Impact in Telangana-
In Telangana, nutritional well-being and education of adolescents has taken a major hit:
- 98 % households suffered from food insufficiency during the initial lockdown period as shops closed, food became expensive, and government relief did not reach all families
- 94 % reported that their adolescent daughters faced difficulties in accessing sanitary napkins during lockdown period owing to limited government supplies, lack of money, and closure of shops
- Two in five adolescent girls reported that they did not have access to or receive any health and nutrition services (including interacting with the frontline health workers) during the lockdown.
- 37 % of adolescent girls did not have access to information on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) during the pandemic
- Only 3 per cent girls attended online classes during the lockdown and 63 per cent of the mothers clearly indicated that the pandemic had adversely impacted their daughter’s learning to a large extent.
- Two in five girls did not have course books, as reported by mothers
- Only 5 per cent mothers felt that the pandemic has increased the risk of early marriage among girls
- An overwhelming majority (97 per cent) nine out of ten mothers respondents perceives play and recreation to be extremely important for girls between the ages of 10-18 years