Every child deserves to reach her or his full potential, but gender inequalities in their lives and in the lives of those who care for them hinder this reality.
Wherever they live in India girls and boys see gender inequality in their homes and communities every day – in textbooks, in movies, in the media and among the men and women who provide their care and support.
Across India gender inequality results in unequal opportunities, and while it impacts on the lives of both genders, statistically it is girls that are the most disadvantaged.
Globally girls have higher survival rates at birth, are more likely to be developmentally on track, and just as likely to participate in preschool, but India is the only large country where more girls die than boys. Girls are also more likely to drop out of school.
In India girls and boys experience adolescence differently. While boys tend to experience greater freedom, girls tend to face extensive limitations on their ability to move freely and to make decisions affecting their work, education, marriage and social relationships.
As girls and boys age the gender barriers continue to expand and continue into adulthood where we see only a quarter of women in the formal workplace.
Some Indian women are global leaders and powerful voices in diverse fields but most women and girls in India do not fully enjoy many of their rights due to deeply entrenched patriarchal views, norms, traditions and structures.
India will not fully develop unless both girls and boys are equally supported to reach their full potential.
There are risks, violations and vulnerabilities girls face just because they are girls. Most of these risks are directly linked to the economic, political, social and cultural disadvantages girls deal with in their daily lives. This becomes acute during crisis and disasters.
With the prevalence of gender discrimination, and social norms and practices, girls become exposed to the possibility of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child domestic work, poor education and health, sexual abuse, exploitation and violence. Many of these manifestations will not change unless girls are valued more.