Mumbai: Over nine lakh girls between the age group of 15-19 years are engaged in some or other form of labour in Maharashtra, states an analysis released by CRY – Child Rights and You. The child rights organisation has conducted an exhaustive analysis on the basis of the existing 2011 Census data.
The findings, released on the occasion of Women’s Day, reveal that 18.4 % of the total population of around 49 lakh girls between this age group has been working. This figure, according to the study, is much higher than girls under 14 years of age. The comparative data shows girls from rural areas are more susceptible to becoming a part of the labour force than in urban areas of the state.
Five districts —Thane, Nashik, Pune, Ahmednagar, and Jalgaon — of the total 36 districts of Maharashtra accounts for around 30% of the total population of girls engaged in work. However, more worrisome is the huge work participation rate among girls from districts like Nandurbar (39 %), Gadchiroli (35 %), Jalna (31 %) and Hingoli (31%), the analysis states.
However, the generic classification indicates agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors account for a staggering 75 % of the working girls in Maharashtra. “These sectors are largely unregulated which means that these girls end up being unprotected under any formal legal structure. Secondly, due to this, a large number of girls are deprived of the opportunity to reach their full potential,” CRY’s report observes.
CRY has urged the state to come out with a specific action plan to reduce the number of girls working in agriculture and forests. “Providing schools within their vicinity should be prioritised. Also, secondary schools should be set up with proper social incentives schemes like scholarships and bicycles for these young girls,” the study recommends.
Whether these girls work while pursuing their formal education is not clear. But it is clear that they begin life as a working woman in their formative teenage stage. The report indicates that despite a near 100 enrolment ratios among girls in primary education, around one third do not reach the secondary level and less than half of the girls in the state finish schooling age-appropriately.
“In large part due to gender discrimination, girls are not given access to a complete education. The lack of education gives her limited opportunities and she is only relegated to low-paid and unskilled jobs. She ultimately becomes a woman who is exploited, undervalued and whose potential is not met,” said Kreeanne Rabadi, Regional Director (CRY-West).