Children in Madhya Pradesh

Gender inequity, a major concern in child survival in the state. Every child has the right to survive, thrive and achieve full potential.

Hemlata Mandrai (Anchor, Right), 18, and Toshiba Qureshi (Co-Anchor), 19, launched The Power of Girls to assemble a girls cricket team not only to emphasize the importance of sports and physical fitness for them, but also to raise awareness about gender and caste discrimination, and sexual harassment.

The challenge

Madhya Pradesh is the second largest state by area and is also home to the largest tribal population (21.09 per cent of population as per Census 2011). More than 60 per cent of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) live in rural areas and are below the poverty line. As per Sample Registration System (SRS), 2015, the state has the third highest neonatal mortality rate contributing to over 50 per cent.

Gender inequity is a major concern in child survival, which is reflected in the higher under-five mortality for girls, it is also reflected in fewer female newborns being admitted to the special newborn care units than boys.

As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), the state has a high stunting rate of 42 per cent that is 3.3 million children under age five are stunted and 2.7 million children under age five are wasted.  Over the past decade the state has witnessed a 29 per cent reduction in underweight. In 2018, the state initiated the implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan - mission mode to address nutrition issues in sync with national mission addressing all forms of undernutrition.  

Although the enrolment rates for elementary school are high, the learning achievement surveys show that learning levels in the early grades are poor, and it is estimated that 450,952 children are out of school, the majority being from marginalized families. The annual average dropout rate at the upper primary level is 7.6 per cent, which is higher than the national average of 5.6 per cent (Source: District Information System for Education 2016-2017).

The state ranks third in the country for crimes committed against children and gender-based violence is on the rise with the state recording the second highest number of rape cases committed against children during 2016 (National Crime Records Bureau, 201). As per Census 2011 approximately 700,000 children aged 5-14 years are child workers.

Almost every third household does not have access to a toilet, over 50 million people in the state still practice open defecation. The state is vulnerable to natural disasters, including droughts. The Bundelkhand region is the most vulnerable to chronic droughts.

The state, however, faces challenges in ensuring inclusive equity and sustainable quality in its service delivery mechanisms. Madhya Pradesh has committed to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focusing on eliminating disparities and exploitation of marginalized populations by adopting a three-pronged strategy of social empowerment, economic empowerment and social justice.

Ensuring children’s rights and well-being

Integrated approach to realize the rights of children of Madhya Pradesh.

UNICEF works in collaboration with the state government to make strategic shifts and help accelerate and sustain progress towards the state’s development goals. It works with various departments, district administrations, elected representatives, Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs), media, women, youth and children's organizations to realize the rights of children of Madhya Pradesh.

In partnership with the government and civil society, successful models in health, nutrition, education, wise water management, sanitation, decentralized planning has been developed and are delivering results for children and women. There is a strong partnership with the media both in the government and private spheres.

UNICEF emphasizes on two life cycle phases – early childhood development (3-6 years) and adolescent empowerment (10-19 years) –to address children’s and women’s rights.

Given the high rate of neonatal mortality, UNICEF focuses on skilled birth attendance, improving the quality of intrapartum and neonatal care, both in delivery rooms and in special newborn care units, management of pre-term labour and low birth weight babies.

Devika Singh, 13, demonstrates during a practice session of the Tinka Samajik Sanstha martial arts training program.
Devika Singh, 13, demonstrates during a practice session of the Tinka Samajik Sanstha martial arts training program.

To strengthen early childhood education, UNICEF developed curriculum and supporting materials for the rollout of pre-primary education activities under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). The focus is on building institutional capacity to deliver and scale up quality early childhood education and ensure school readiness.

Child participation is prioritized, and support is given to mobilize youth groups into becoming advocates for children’s issues. UNICEF works closely with elected representatives to help build the discourse on child rights issues and builds capacities of the child protection workforce to strengthen implementation of child protection policies and legislation.

The state invests in social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) training to strengthen the capacities of frontline workers to mobilize the community to demand quality health care services and promote health-seeking behaviours.

UNICEF advocates mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and promotes standard operating procedures during periods of drought for delivering essential nutrition services targeting young children and women.