One in every 10 Indians is an adolescent girl, and India hosts nearly 20 per cent of the world’s population of adolescent girls. Despite this, the employment rate for women in India is dismal.
As per a survey conducted by Dasra, a philanthropic foundation, for every 100 girls that enrol in a school in rural India, only 40 will reach Class 4, 18 will reach Class 8, and only one will make it to Class 12. The report further claims that adolescent girls work as many as 120-150 per cent more hours than boys in Indian households. Contrary to this, adolescent boys are more economically active than girls in their group. The study claims the participation rate for boys is 40 per cent, whereas the same is 25 per cent for girls in the same age group.
The report says that for girls, doors begin to shut in adolescence. Parental and community perceptions around chastity and safety confine girls to the domestic sphere. “Girls are seen less as individuals and more as future mothers and wives. Consequently, they spend an unfair amount of time on household chores, often at the expense of studies,” reads the report.
Called ‘Enhancing the Employability of India’s Adolescent Girls’, the report analyses a widespread gap between girls’ skills, aptitude, and attitudinal readiness for the job market. “The challenge is how to move a 14-year-old girl from a disadvantaged background towards self-sufficiency,” says Kaku Nakhate, president and country head of Bank of America (India), in the report. The survey was funded by the Bank of America as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility programme. “Popular wisdom has long held employment as the answer. However, recent research shows that a more comprehensive approach is needed,” says Nakhate.
Researchers say that they found that when girls learn skills, they begin to tell parents that they don’t want to drop out of school. The report says, “Girls tell their fathers they don’t want to have an early marriage; they’d rather take a loan for their education. They tell their parents their career dreams.”