On National Youth Day, a new report titled ‘The Situation of Adolescents in Jharkhand’ identified that child marriage and teenage pregnancy continue to be the two key challenges for unlocking the potential of the young population in Jharkhand.
Dasra Adolescents Collaborative conducted a survey of 15,963 adolescents and youth (10-21 age group) across Jharkhand to study growth areas of their lives including education, sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR) employability, media access and early marriage.
In a one-of-its-kind exercise to understand multidimensional challenges faced by adolescents in India the survey was conducted across 41,393 households in 325 villages and urban wards of Jharkhand.
Shailja Mehta, Associate Director, Dasra, said, “In NITI Aayog’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) India Index 2019, Jharkhand is in the aspirant State category which needs to accelerate their performance towards SDGs. Rapid progress on SDGs can be achieved by nurturing young population to their fullest potential.
The ‘The Situation of Adolescents in Jharkhand’ report recommends that the government and non-profit organisations need to focus on better implementation of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) in the area of health, the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan in the area of education, the National Skill Development Mission and Tejaswini programs in the area of skilling and employability, and, the SAG programme, the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, and the community based activities of the RKSK in the areas of empowerment and building leadership.”
The report shows high prevalence of child marriage in Jharkhand where 4 per cent of girls aged 15-21 were married before the age of 15, and one third of those aged 18-21 were married before the age of 18 confirming the findings of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) -4 .
The data also suggests that early marriage is resulting in early child birth. While hardly any (<1%) of the girls aged 15-21 had given birth before the age of 15, as many as 12 % of girls aged 18-21 had given birth in childhood (below the age of 18), and almost two in five (39%) of those aged 20-21 had given birth in adolescence (below the age of 20).
Lack of awareness of contraceptives and health matters is making adolescent girls more vulnerable to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and teenage pregnancy.