More Than Half of Adolescent Girls in India Anaemic: UNICEF
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27 February 2011
By Teena Thacker
New Delhi, India
HOME to about 20 per cent of the world’s adolescent population, India has a dismal track record in their health and education parameters, says a new UNICEF report.
Almost 47 per cent girls in the age group of 11 to 19 years are underweight in India — the highest in the world — says the UNICEF report on the ‘State of the World’s Children’.
"Adolescent girls also face a greater risk of nutritional problems than adolescent boys, including anaemia and underweight. In addition, over half of girls aged 15–19 (56 per cent) are anaemic," said the report.
India has the largest population of adolescents (243 million) followed by China (207 million) and United States (44 million). The world is home to 1.2 billion individuals aged 10–19 years.
According to the report, the implications for adolescent girls in India are particularly serious, given that in the period 2000–2009, around 47 per cent of Indian women aged 20–24 years were married by age 18.
The report says that around 25 per cent (243 million) of Indians belong to the age group of 11–19 years. Almost 40 per cent of this section is out of school and 43 per cent get married before the age of 18, out of whom 13 per cent become teenage mothers.
Although the legal age for marriage is 18, the majority of Indian women marry as adolescents. Recent data show that 30 per cent of girls aged 15–19 are currently married or in union, compared to only 5 per cent of boys of the same age, it said.
Though the girls who got married before the age of 18 years has decreased from 54 per cent in 1992–93 to 43 per cent in 2007–08, the figure is the eight highest in the world. Pakistan fares better with just 25 per cent. It said school attendance in the 11–13 years age group is 86 per cent and 14–17 years is 64 per cent.
"Certainly, now 74 per cent of adolescents are in school. But there is a high–drop out rate afterwards," Karin Hulshof, country representative for UNICEF said.