Education brings down girl child labour

The recently released India Human Development Report (IHDR) 2011 has lauded various policy initiatives by the government aimed at improving female education.

Traditionally, in rural India, incidence of child labour among girls has always been more than the boys while urban areas have been showing an opposite trend. However, according to National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) estimates, proportion of female child labour in child workforce in 2007-8 has fallen down more rapidly both in rural and urban areas than male child labour between 2004-5 and 2007-8. The study points out to the fact that in India, boys are economically more active in labour market than girls. The gender gap for working children was apparent in 1993-4 with 6.2 per cent male and 6.0 per cent female. It came down in 2004-5 with 3.3 per cent male and 3.3 per cent female child workers.

Gender gap

The latest estimates of the National Sample Survey Organisation (2007-8) show that the gender gap is increasing again with 2.7 per cent male and 2.0 per cent female.

According to the available data, for the first time, the percentage of working girls in rural areas is lower than the working boys. The percentage of working girls in rural India has been estimated to be 2.2 against 3.0 of working boys. In 1993-4, the proportion of female child labor in child workforce was 7.8 against 6.8 of male child labour. “This is the result of various policy initiatives, like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, taken up by central and state governments and also support from NGOs and other civil society organisations. Various incentives like providing schools within a specified distance, free bicycles, books, uniforms and mid-day meals have impacted positively on girls’ enrolment in schools,” says the IHDR.

Some states have a lower proportion o girl child labour than boy child labour, and the scenario is the opposite for the rest of the states.

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