Empowering India’s adolescents has long been one of the most significant of India’s development challenges. Despite India being home to...
Despite having the largest population of adolescent girls in the world, universally biased behaviors and mindsets about adolescent girls lead to gender-based discrimination, early marriage and pregnancy, lack of education and a dearth of formal employment opportunities. Dasra’s report Owning Her Future highlights how girls are essential agents of change and empowering them is key to break the cycle of poverty and deprivation.
The report makes recommendations to empower adolescents in India, notably that many discriminatory social institutions, norms and practices deny girls the ability to reach their full potential; breaking these down by engaging her and the larger community around her - especially men and boys -is critical to increase access to services, improve safety and mobility, and inculcate individual and collective agency for girls. Research also shows that staying in school longer reduces chances of early marriage and pregnancy, and improves health and income generating potential for adolescent girls. If all girls had secondary education there would be two-thirds fewer child marriages and 12 million children would be saved from malnutrition.
Investing in girls offers the biggest social returns and addresses multiple social issues: girls going to secondary school are 70% less likely to marry as children, preventing early pregnancies and child deaths. If India enrolled 1% more girls in secondary school, its GDP would rise by USD 5.5 billion.