Pledge to Support a Girl Child This Dussehra

We often feel fortunate about living in the 21st century. Life has become as simple as it could ever be and the least one has to do is install an app to get his work done in a fraction of seconds. But, sadly in many parts of the world, nothing has been improved for girls yet. A UN report stated that worldwide, around 700-million girls did not have a right to decide when to marry and they are married as children. Early marriage leads to early pregnancy and hence weak health among girls. Often the reason for such a situation is lack of awareness and education.

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Why should you support a Girl Child?

Perspectives are changing with each passing year. From families’ abandoning the idea of girl child to now accepting the gender and providing equal importance, there has been a positive change. There are many charitable organisations that undertake initiatives to kindle awareness and gender equality by setting out programmes of employment, empowerment and education for girls. Also, there are many girls who have been benefitted by educational schemes and programmes.

Dussera is round the corner in India, and it is a symbol of the victory of truth, honesty and good against lies, deceit and evil. This year, it coincides with the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, 2016. The purpose of this day is to run the mission of gender equality by 2030 by developing awareness of the importance of nurturing a girl child.

How can you make a difference this Dussehra?

Education for Girl: In order to create a literate, healthy and strong society, it is as important to educate a girl as it is for a boy. Education becomes a strong foundation for girls to improve their status in the society, stay aware about their lives, decide for their life and support the income generation in families. Educating a girl creates self-awareness and empowers other women and the society as well. Spreading awareness and promoting education is a way through which you can be a part of the celebration of International day of The Girl as well as Dussehra. You may simply sponsor a school for a year so more and more girls are encouraged to attend school.

Healthy and Nutritious Food: Girls and women in some families are deprived of healthy and sufficient meal. It’s not because they do not have access to food but due to lack of awareness since women are not the bread-earners in many households. This practice adversely affects girls’ as well as women’s health. The status can be improved, by providing food to girl children in schools and anganwadi centers or by volunteering.

Akshaya Patra is a philanthropic organisation that runs Mid-Day Meal Programme, in active collaboration with the government, for children in India who are deprived of education and food. The trust has its branches in 10 states in the country from where it caters to the needs of nutritious meals.  You have the option of contributing or donating a small fraction of the income in feeding a child throughout his/her education. This Dussera, let’s support a girl child by taking the responsibility of her one-time meal.

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This way you also get to donate for education in India as many children are deprived of education and nourishment. The trust, with the support of social enthusiasts and philanthropists, becomes successful in delivering food to millions of children and yet there are millions left who don’t go to school but strive hard for meals. You can reach them with meals. You may simply choose to donate online.

History of Mid-Day Meals in India

Madras Corporation under the British Empire initiated the Mid-Day meal Programme in 1925. Later, after independence, Tamil Nadu was the first state to run the programme in 1963, by supplying free lunches in government schools, government-aided schools and anganwadi centers. According to the legacy of mid-day meal in India, British administration formed the foundation for supplying food across the government schools for primary and upper-primary children. Subsequently, Government of India started the school meal programme to improve nutritional status of children and stop child labour. Akshaya Patra today actively works with the Indian government in supplying meals at a larger scale and is on a mission to eradicate undernourishment nationwide.

This year, Dussera brings us an opportunity of true celebration of the festival by truly fighting against the evil of illiteracy and undernourishment, and contributing towards creating a healthier, safer society for girls. This year let’s begin the celebration with the joy of giving something to society, contributing in its welfare and supporting a girl child.

Sources: unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child

un.org/en/events/girlchild/

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midday_Meal_Scheme#History

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