Girls in India are less likely to realise their full potential as compared to those in neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, according to "The Girls' Opportunity Index", which is part of a new study conducted by a rights body.
The index prepared by the NGO Save the Children ranks India at 90, two spots below Pakistan, which is placed at 88, five points below Nepal at 85 and 10 points below Bhutan at 80.
The objective of the Girls' Opportunity Index is to rank countries according to the opportunity that girls get to shape their futures and reach their full potential.
The parameters used to develop the index are child marriage, adolescent pregnancy, maternal mortality, women in Parliament and lower-secondary school completion for girls.
Other neighbouring countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh are ranked 121 and 111 respectively.
According the report, a low-income country like Nepal is performing better than itspeers because of its relatively good lower-secondary school completion rate for girls, which at 86 per cent, is similar to that of Spain.
The United States ranks 32 in the Girl's Opportunity Index, below Algeria and Kazakhstan. The report attributes this to "poor women's representation in parliament, high adolescent fertility and maternal mortality rates compared with other countries in its income group."
The index comprises 144 countries which had recent data (from 2006 and onwards) for the five indicators mentioned earlier.
The report also elaborates on the prevalence of child marriages. In developing countries, one in three girls is married before the age of 18 and one in nine before the age of 15. Globally, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18.
It also highlights how child marriage alone can lead to multiple violations -- denying the girl right to education, health, making her vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and putting her at risk of different kind of violence.