India may be pushing its girls and women into fields like entrepreneurship and sports, yet a recent study says that girls from neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka have a better chance at realising their dreams than Indian girls. The study- ‘Every Last Girl: Free to live, free to learn, free from harm‘- was conducted by NGO Save the Children.
The report involves a total 144 countries in which India stands at 90. The report is based on criteria like child marriage, adolescent pregnancy, maternal mortality, women in parliament and lower-secondary school completion for girls. It judges countries on the basis of how much opportunities are given to girls of that country by the country to fulfil her career-related dreams.
In this list, Pakistan was above India at 88 and Bhutan was found to be at 80. Even a considerably low-income country like Nepal, which is ranked at 85, is better off than us because of its comparatively better lower-secondary school completion rate for girls at 86% and very similar to that of Spain.
Other neighbouring countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh are placed at 121 and 111 respectively. And the US stands at 32, even below Algeria and Kazakhstan. This is because of the poor representation of women in parliament, high rate of adolescent pregnancy and maternal mortality rate compared with other countries in the same income group as US.
It is the rate of child marriage issue that is the biggest evil for India. Here girls as young as 10 years old are married to men much older than them. “Child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the opportunity to learn, develop and be children.” said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children, in a press release.
“Girls who marry too early often can’t attend school and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape. They get pregnant and bear children before they’re physically and emotionally ready, which can have devastating consequences on their and their baby’s health.”
The countries that topped the list are Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Belgium.
Picture credit- Skyehohmann