WE Foundation – An agenda for Young India
For India to get full advantage of its demographic dividend, we must invest in our youth.
Michael Carter from the World Bank has said: “While nations are rapidly graying, India’s youth – set to grow in numbers for many decades to come – can be a unique asset. But, before these young people can become productive citizens in the world of tomorrow, they must be fully empowered today. A good education and good health would be the most powerful tools to empower them today”.
Realities of Young India
- 2 out of every ten Indians comprise of youngsters in the age group of 10-24 years. (327 million individuals) (Source: WHO, 2007)
- 31 of every 100 patients infected by sexually transmitted infections including Immunodeficiency Virus are youth. (Source: National AIDS Control Organization, 2007)
- According to the National Family Health Survey, 27 out of every 100 women and 3 out of every 100 men were married when they were (2005-06)
- 3 out of every 10 women in the age group of 15-19 years have had a live birth by the age of 19 years (Source:NFHS 3)
- Only 7 out of every 100 married women and 9 out of 100 unmarried girls reported current use of modern contraceptive methods
(Source: National Family Health Survey 3)
- 14 out of every 100 abortions occur in adolescents (IPPF)
- A total of 60 out of every 100 girls in the age group 15-19 were found to be anaemic (Source:National Family Health Survey-3). Anaemia is a contributing cause of increased age-specific mortality among female adolescents.
- The sex ratio in the age group 10-19 years is 882 females per 1000 males, and is lower than the sex ratio of 927 females per 1000 males in the age group of 0-6 years
- Amongst the age group of 15-19 years 25 out of every 100 of adolescents in rural areas and 10 out of every 100 in urban areas are illiterate.
- Gender disparities persist in the education sector despite improved school enrolment rates. Girls account for less than half of enrolment at all stages of schooling.
- Rural girls are the most disadvantaged. The male – female differences grow with each level of education
- Among 12,447 children surveyed across 13 states in India, half of them reported some form of sexual abuse. 53 out of every 100 of this population of victims were boys (Source: Study on Child Abuse, Ministry of Women and Child Development, 2007).
- A majority of non-consensual sexual experiences (sexual harassment, abduction) go unreported.
- Extreme poverty, low status of women and lack of law enforcement has led to an increase in sex work.
- Human trafficking and clandestine movement of young girls has also increased within the country and across international borders.
The period between childhood and young adulthood is a period of rapid change – physical, emotional, cognitive and social. During this time, children’s bodies change in different ways at different times.
Assisting these young women to understand their bodies and their inalienable right over themselves, and empowering them with the knowledge and skills during this time will empower them to face their future with confidence.
WE Foundation proposes several activities to further health awareness, vocation training, and physical and mental health of the young women of India. And since the youth comprise a substantial proportion of the country’s population, if these activities are scaled to a national level we are just that much closer to achieving a healthy, socio-economically productive and poverty free society.