Empowering the Adolescent Girls

by N.C.Joshi, Assistant Director(M & C), PIB, Delhi

The approach for holistic child development remains unaddressed if adolescent girls are excluded from the developmental programmes. Adolescence is a crucial phase between childhood and womanhood. This intermediary stage is the most eventful for mental, emotional and psychological well being. Various surveys clearly reveal that the health, nutrition, education and social status of adolescent girls are at sub optimal level and the adolescent girls do not have adequate access to vital health and nutrition information or services.

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), with its opportunities for early childhood development, seeks to reduce both socio-economic and gender inequities. To better address concerns for women and the girl child, it was necessary to design interventions for adolescent girls which addressed their needs of self development, nutrition and health status, literacy and numerical skill, vocational skills etc.

The special intervention Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY0 and Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG) are being implemented for adolescent girls, using the ICDS infrastructure. These interventions focus on school dropouts, girls in the age group of 11-18 years, to meet their needs of self-development, nutrition, health, education, literacy and recreational skill formation.

Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY)
Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) seeks to empower adolescent girls, so as to enable them to take charge of their lives. It is viewed as a holistic initiative for the development of adolescent girls. The programme through its interventions aims at bringing about a difference in the lives of the adolescent girls. It seeks to provide them with an opportunity to realize their full potential.
This scheme is a redesign of the already existing Adolescent Girls (AG) Scheme being implemented as a component under the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme. The new scheme dramatically extends the coverage of the earlier scheme with significant content enrichment, strengthens the training component, particularly in skill development, aspects aimed at empowerment and enhanced self-perception. It also fosters convergence with other sectoral programmes, addressing the interrelated needs of adolescent girls and women.

The broad objectives of the Scheme are to improve the nutritional, health and development status of adolescent girls, promote awareness of health, hygiene, nutrition and family care, link them to opportunities for learning life skills, going back to school, help them gain a better understanding of their social environment and take initiatives to become productive members of the society.

Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls
To address the problem of under-nutrition among adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers, the Planning Commission, in the year 2002-03, launched the Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG), on a Pilot Project basis in 51 districts in the country. Under this scheme, 6 kg of food-grains were given to under nourished adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Eligibility was determined on the basis of their weight. The Pilot Project was continued in the year 2003-04 also. It, however, could not be continued in the year 2004-05. The Government approved the implementation of NPAG, through the Department of Women and Child Development, in 51 backward districts identified by the Planning Commission in the year 2005-06 to provide 6 kg of free food-grains to undernourished adolescent girls only (pregnant women & lactating mothers are not covered as these are targeted under ICDS). The scheme is being continued for the Annual Plan 2006-07 on pilot project basis.

The funds are given as 100% grant to States/UTs so that they can provide food grains through the Public Distribution System free of cost to the families of identified undernourished persons.
No doubt such programmes aimed at improving the nutritional and health status of adolescent girls would definitely promote their self-development and empower them with decision making capabilities.

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