New Delhi, Feb 17: Plan India, one of the largest global child rights organisations, will invest Rs 1000 crore (US$146 million) in programmes to improve the lives of 2 million children directly, and 5 million more through advocacy efforts over the next five years.
Projects will be implemented across 14 states to support some of the most excluded and disadvantaged communities in 6,000 villages and slums in India.
"Children living in slum areas suffer from some of the poorest health and living conditions in the country, leaving them at greater risk of disease and chronic health problems. Girls are particularly affected as they so often bear the brunt of the consequences of inequality. Our development work is committed to empowering all children, their families and communities to be able to lead a life of dignity," said Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director of Plan India.
Research by Plan India has shown that children can face many barriers to education, healthcare and protection.
"India is home to the largest number of children in the world. This presents challenges in protecting girls and boys and from abuse and violence and ensuring they have access to quality healthcare, education, immunisation and nutrition. Difficult urban living conditions, limited voice in decision-making and a lack of a secure tenure, assets and legal protection have adversely affected children," she added.
The major focus of Plan India's programmes will be on improving access to water and hygiene services; protecting children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence; strengthening access to quality reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health services; education; youth employability; and building disaster-resilient communities.
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO, Plan International said, "The world is going through a period of great change and nowhere is this more apparent than India - a country that is progressing at an incredibly fast pace. With these shifts, it's important that all children reap the benefits of development so that they can reach their full potential and achieve all that they desire in their lives. This is especially vital for girls, who are so often excluded from opportunities in life and forced to undertake a path not of their choosing. An educated girl is an empowered girl who will contribute to her family, community and country."
She further added "Our work at Plan International is very much grounded in the determination to leave no-one behind. No child should grow up without a voice and we have a collective responsibility to ensure those voices are heard and listened to. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) give us a strong foundation on which we can build a better life for children today, tomorrow and beyond. We have the opportunity - now let's seize it."
Plan India will continue to focus on tackling exclusion and gender inequality, working in partnership with communities, government and civil society to advance the child development agenda.