Some years back, 21-year old N. Krupavathy from Kootuthapatti village in Salem district was stopped from going to school after she finished Class X and child marriage was on the cards. Today, after fighting all odds, she works as a lab assistant in a college and is proud of the work she does. “The children’s collective of CRY counselled me and my parents about the consequences of child marriage. Now, after finishing my work for the day, I counsel and help children in the community,” she said.
Like her, many were saved from child labour and child marriage by Child Rights and You (CRY) which has now launched another initiative ‘EmpowHER’ to raise awareness about empowering girl children. CRY will also organise a walkathon in this regard ‘Walk to EmpowHER!’ which will be flagged off at Elliots Beach in Chennai on January 21.
CRY brought out a status report on the key concerns of the girl child in the State and highlighted issues regarding education, protection of children and health and nutrition.
Jenishiya Priyanka, associate general manager, monetary and evaluation, CRY, said, they were working in seven districts, including Tirunelveli, Tenkasi, Ramanathapuram, Salem, Dharmapuri, Chennai and Dindigul on areas of education, protection of girl children and health and nutrition. “We are one of the States which is much better, but we still have a long way to go,” she said.
Harry Jayakaran, associate general manager, programs, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andaman, CRY, said, while Unified District Information System for Education Plus data shows that 99 per cent of girl children were enrolled in the primary school, at the secondary and higher secondary levels, the numbers dropped to 57 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.
Similarly, the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) data indicates that over 52 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 19 years were anaemic, he said.
“We counsel the parents on the importance of education and address the issue of child labour. We also work with other stakeholders, starting from parents and the local panchayat-level people to different departments of the government. We are to trying create awareness about the importance of girl child’s education. We will have largescale sensitisation meetings with parents, school and government officials,” he said.