Kerala tops the TAG index which compares the performance of each State based on the status of their teenage girls, as a part of the survey findings of The Teen Age Girls (TAG) Report, conducted by Project Nanhi Kali.
Compiled and published by the Naandi Foundation, with grant support from Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, this report is touted as the nation’s first report on what it means to be a teenage girl in India.
Conducted by an all-women team of 1000 surveyors, the survey covered over 74,000 girls across the country and traversed 30 States and 600 districts. Kerala is followed by Mizoram, Sikkim, Manipur and Himachal Pradesh as the top States, while the top three cities were found to be Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru.
“We feel strongly that we should extend the Nanhi Kali Project beyond the tenth grade because one of the most important age groups is the one from tenth grade to graduation,” said Manoj Kumar, Chief Executive Officer at Naandi Foundation, when asked about future plans.
Some of the parameters used for preparing the TAG index were the current enrolment in educational institutions, child marriage, open defecation, hygienic menstrual practices, level of haemoglobin and body mass index, age appropriate schooling, ownership of phones and access to the internet. The ease of going to a police station and filing an FIR, and the ease of living and travelling alone were also scrutinised.
Some of the findings that demonstrate a promising outlook are that 81 per cent of teenage girls are currently studying, 96 per cent of them are unmarried, 70 per cent of the girls wish to pursue higher studies, 74 per cent wish to work after their studies, and that 73 per cent wish to marry only after 21 years of age.
However, these positive findings are marred by the glaring roadblocks identified by the same report. One in every two teenage girls is anaemic, one in every two has a low BMI, 46 per cent use unhygienic materials during menstruation and 40 per cent of them still have to defecate in the open.
When asked about the way forward, Kumar said that their hopes are pinned on the media coverage for this report and its findings to draw the government’s attention to the aspirations of these teenage girls and the harrowing indicators that exist alongside it.
“I hope there is a manifesto in every political party for what they will do for teenage girls. With the Mahindra communications team, we are planning to take it to another phase of dissemination. So, we may go to cities, colleges and district collectors. We are yet to work out what is best and we are collecting ideas on it,” he added.