At least 67 per cent of girls did not attend online classes, while 56 per cent did not get enough time for recreation activities in urban slums of Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Telangana during the COVID-19 induced lockdown in 2020, according to a new study.
As per the Wings Report, a four-yearly report published by 'Save The Children', also known as Bal Raksha Bharat, 68 per cent of adolescent girls faced challenges with accessing health and nutrition services, 56 per cent did not get time to indulge in outdoor play and recreation during the lockdown, and over 50 per cent mothers surveyed perceived that the chances of girls getting married early are higher than boys due to COVID-19.
During the 2020 COVID lockdown, fear of infection, closure of health centres and schools, long queues and unavailability of health staff made life difficlut for adolescent girls to access health and nutrition services, the report added.
The report The World of India's Girls - Wings 2022, conducted in four states, represented the four geographical zones- East, West, North and South.
COVID Impact On Girls Education In Different States
In Delhi, the most significant impact has been on the Girls' Nutritional Index, including Menstrual Hygiene and Continuity of Education. Four in five households (79 per cent) suffered from food insufficiency.
Two in three mothers (63 per cent) stated that their teenage daughters faced hardships in accessing sanitary napkins during the COVID-19 lockdown, India Today reported.
Moreover, nine out of 10 adolescent girls (93 per cent) said that they did not have access to or receive any health and nutrition services.
One in two adolescent girls (45 per cent) did not have access to any information on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) during the lockdown period.
In addition, school closures have caused a major setback to learning continuity. The closure of learning facilities disrupted the lives of more than 320 million students, most of whom were enrolled at the primary and secondary levels (86 per cent).
Seven in 10 adolescent girls (71 per cent girls) attended online classes during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Nine in 10 mothers (89 per cent) reported that the pandemic had severely affected their daughter's learning to a great extent.
Since schools were closed, the mothers said that one in five girls (20%) were not contacted by school staff during the pandemic period.
In Bihar, three in four mothers (73 per cent) reported that the pandemic had adversely impacted their daughter's learning. Only two per cent of girls attended online classes during the lockdown period.
Job losses and reduced household incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the chances of child marriages. Nine in 10 mothers (88%) shared that they have not come across any awareness-building activity around the issues of child marriage during the crisis.
One in two girls (48 per cent) reported increased household chores compared to pre-pandemic days.
In Maharashtra, two in three mothers (68 per cent) indicated that the pandemic had adversely impacted their daughter's learning. One in two adolescent girls (54%) attended online classes during the lockdown.
Job losses and reduced household incomes due to the pandemic have increased the likelihood of child marriages. Almost all mothers (97%) shared that they had not come across any awareness-building activity around the issues of child marriage during the pandemic.
Three in five girls (61%) reported increased household chores compared to pre-pandemic days.
"The issue is in proportion to the problem, the solution is minuscule. We are caught unaware of the measure of psycho-social trauma adolescent girls have to go through," Sudarshan Suchi, CEO, Save the Children told India Today.
He added the solution could only be achieved via the collective consciousness of the state to take responsibility and address the problem at hand.
The impact COVID-19 has had on the education of the girl child is scary, with 67 per cent of girls not attending online schools.
In the national capital itself, a 14-year-old girl said, "My parents went back to the village, leaving us in the city, and my maternal uncle refused to give up his phone for online classes."
The study has also stressed why policies alone would not make changes, and the need of the hour is to strengthen the delivery mechanisms to ensure effective implementation of programs for girls.