MUMBAI, India, Oct. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Educate Girls conducted a comprehensive study with mothers, girls and boys from 900+ households across villages of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, to understand how the pandemic impacted the education of girls aged 5-18.
- The increase in the number of hours spent on household chores is greater for adolescent girls (15-18 years).
- At the discussions conducted in Uttar Pradesh, roughly 30% of girls who participated were either married or engaged. In Rajasthan, girls in all discussions mentioned that there has been an increase in proposals or interest for their marriage.
- 3 out of 4 adolescent girls will continue to carry the burden of household chores even when schools reopen.
In November and December 2021, Educate Girls, an Indian non-profit working towards girls’ education in rural India, conducted a study with the support from Dalberg International Advisors, with mothers, and over 3,200 girls and boys to estimate the impact of the pandemic on girls aged 5-18 in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns affected everyone but had a disproportionate effect on the poorest of the world. In India, the closure of 1.5 million schools in 2020 impacted 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools. Girls, especially those from the most marginalised communities, were the most affected.
Educate Girls wanted to understand the changes brought about by the pandemic in the lives of such vulnerable girls in India and how it may have affected their chances to return to school.
Roadblocks preventing girls from resuming or staying in school
- Increased financial distress and school attendance
– In villages where schools had opened, about 94% girls and 96% boys said they are attending school. However, the proportion of adolescent girls not attending school (23%) was nearly double that of adolescent boys not attending school.
– The number of adolescent girls not in school is 2.3 times higher in households that have lost most of their income, than in those that have lost half of their income compared to pre-pandemic.
- Increased burden of household chores
– Lockdown resulted in an increased burden of household chores on girls. The increase in the number of hours spent on household chores is greater for adolescent girls (15-18 years), than for adolescent boys. This is not contrary to the usual scenario where older adolescent girls take on the major responsibility of household chores.
– For all girls, the number of hours spent on household chores has increased by more than 1 hour a day to an average of over 3.5 hours per day. Most of this increase is in chores that need to be done in the morning before they go to school.
– 3 out of 4 adolescent girls will continue to carry the burden of household chores even when schools reopen.
- Burden of early marriage
– In Uttar Pradesh, roughly 30% of participating girls were either married or engaged.
– Many girls mentioned aggravated poverty during lockdown, coupled with other circumstances, have left them at risk of early marriage.
– Most parents and adolescent girls reported that the girls were not married, and neither did they get engaged (or spoken for) during the lockdown and overall Covid period while schools were shut.
– Only 1% of adolescent girls admitted to being married while that number is 2% for adolescent boys. 4% of adolescent girls and 2% of adolescent boys have said there is an increase in the number of marriage proposals after lockdown.
“The findings of the study are clear – the barriers to girls’ education are greater than ever before and we need to fight greater odds to ensure these girls go to school, don’t drop out, and continue learning. The impact is most acute for adolescent girls. The study also highlights the stories of girls and the long-term effect the pandemic has left on their lives,” says Safeena Husain, Founder and Board Member, Educate Girls.
“Educate Girls works with some of India’s most rural, remote, and marginalised communities. This study has built evidence on the criticality of supporting girls through education – especially in the post-COVID times. The findings of the report have helped us create actionable plans to work with the communities and the Government to ensure that girls are back in school,” shares Maharshi Vaishnav, CEO, Educate Girls.
The findings of this study have been compiled in a report titled ‘Impact of Covid-19 in rural India and its effect on girls’. In this report, Educate Girls has also outlined the opportunities that lay ahead, which involves teachers and peers playing a key role in keeping adolescent girls connected to learning and bringing them back to school
About Educate Girls
Educate Girls is a non-profit that focuses on mobilising communities for girls’ education in India’s rural and educationally backward areas. Working in partnership with the Government, Educate Girls currently operates successfully in over 20,000 villages of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and has brought 1.1 million+ girls back to school to date. By engaging with a huge base of community volunteers, Educate Girls helps to identify, enrol, and retain out-of-school girls and to improve foundational skills in literacy and numeracy for all children (both girls and boys).
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