ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cultural Stereotypes and Household Behaviour

Girl Child Labour in India

To improve levels of girls' education, it is vital to widen the definition of child labour beyond wage employment. At present, there is little recognition of the economic contribution of girls to the economy and little effort has been made to get girls out of work and into school. There also remain long-standing stereotypes and norms that seek to discriminate against the girl child. However, the picture is not all bleak, for efforts at the grass roots level are afoot, wherein the NGOs have worked hand-in-hand with villagers to send their girls to school with very dramatic results.


This paper seeks to draw attention to the issue of child labour and education with a special focus on girls’ education. It argues that unless the full-time work of children at the cost of education is recognised by policy-makers as ‘child labour’, universalising elementary education will remain a distant dream. The paper argues that the definition of child labour needs to be widened beyond just wage employment for otherwise there is both little recognition of the economic contribution of girls to the economy and also fewer efforts to get girls out-of-work and into school. It is also necessary to widen this definition of child labour to include all children out of school for purposes of planning and resource allocation. Once we start making a distinction between ‘child labour’ and ‘working children’, the former becomes unacceptable but the latter becomes part of the process of socialisation, thus discriminating against the girl child.

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