Bhopal is the capital of Madhya Pradesh State, in western India. Around two million people live in this rapidly growing city, with many industries in and around the city.
However, in 1984, a poisonous gas leak killed tens of thousands of people and caused several thousand individuals permanent and partial disabilities. It has been called the world's worst industrial disaster, and its effects are still felt decades afterwards.
Moreover, the city also struggles with poverty. This is a cause for both malnutrition and for gender inequality, to which children in Bhopal are most vulnerable.
Since 1990, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Bhopal.
Gender inequality is a major issue in Madhya Pradesh, where Bhopal is located. To illustrate, in the state, 39% of girls were forced into marriage before the age of 18. This number had already decreased from 67% in the past. Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound.
Furthermore, literacy rates in Madhya Pradesh speak for themselves: the literacy rate for men is 81%, while the literacy rate for women is 65%. This could be due to the fact that girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys.
Although India has experienced a rapid economic growth over the past years, food insecurity is still recurrent, and many people still suffer from acute hunger.
Parents in Madhya Pradesh state struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children.
And thus, 33% of children are underweight, and 35% of children experience stunting (low height for age), a result of undernutrition. Furthermore, 19% of children experience wasting (low weight for height), which occurs when a child has not had food of adequate quality and quantity.