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‘Scheme for empowering adolescent girls is in doldrums’

Awareness about the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)-SABLA is poor in the State, claim child rights experts.

The SABLA scheme was implemented in 2010 across 205 districts in the country.

In Tamil Nadu, nine districts were selected — Chennai, Cuddalore, Tiruchirapalli, Tiruvannamalai, Salem, Coimbatore, Madurai, Ramnathapuram and Kanniyakumari.

Life skill training

The scheme aims at empowering adolescent girls between 11 and 18 years of age by improving their nutritional and health and teaching them life skills. It also focusses on educating them on their legal rights, reproductive cycle, HIV/AIDS, contraception, menstrual hygiene, marriage, pregnancy and child care.

These sessions are imparted at Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS) centres which come under the Department of Social Welfare and Nutrition Meal Programme and are fully sponsored by the Centre, except for the nutrition component, which is shared on a 50:50 basis with the State.

K.R. Renuka, executive director of Centre for Women’s Development and Research (CWDR), said the scheme was being implemented poorly across the State. In the city, the ICDS anganwadi centres are not equipped to deal with adolescents, she added.

“We found that there are over 2,000 adolescent girls in the city, mostly in slums, who are not enrolled in the scheme. An RTI we filed also said that only 912 girls were provided life skills and vocational training in 2014-15,” she said.

A year later in 2015-16, statistics from the Department of Social Welfare reveal that vocational training was given to 4,170 girls under the scheme across the State. The same year, over 4 lakh adolescent girls were covered under the nutrition component and were provided the weekly iron folic acid supplement.

“The main purpose of the scheme is to empower adolescent girls. The department must focus on enrolling more girls,” said K. Shanmugavelayutham, convener, TN-FORCES.

Separate department

Experts pointed out that there was a dire need to have a separate department for the scheme to ensure its effective implementation. They added that anganwadi workers were already overburdened and had not been trained to educate adolescent girls.

“This is the only scheme which educates adolescent girls on sexual reproductive health. It is important to enrol more and make them aware of their rights to avoid any form of abuse,” said Ms. Renuka.

Source: The Hindu

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