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Defining Girlhood in IndiaA Transnational History of Sexual Maturity Laws$
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Ashwini Tambe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042720

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042720.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 21 October 2021

Investing in the Girl Child, 1989–2015

Investing in the Girl Child, 1989–2015

(p.121) 6 Investing in the Girl Child, 1989–2015
Defining Girlhood in India

Ashwini Tambe

University of Illinois Press

This chapter turns focus to girls as a conceptual category. In particular, it traces the rise of the figure of the “girl child” in 1990s Indian discourses and then in UN discourses. Chapter 6 shows how attention to girls spiked in state policies and corporate campaigns in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. It traces a discursive explosion: from a trickle of references in the early 1990s, “girls” and, specifically, the “girl child,” came to occupy increasing attention in the mid-1990s and then even greater institutional stature from about 2005 into the next decade. The chapter proposes possible reasons for the increasing attention to girls, such as discourses in development studies circles, nervousness about some feminist advocacy causes, as well as corporate interests. It show how the celebration of girlhood has enabled a specific kind of advocacy: a turn toward productive investment in girls. A key contribution of this chapter is to show how intellectual influences traveled in multidirectional ways: the term “girl child” traveled from Indian contexts to UN contexts. While a bulk of the chapter focuses on intergovernmental UN contexts, the last part moves back to India, showing how the new orientation toward investing in girls has been taken up in programs initiated by states and the national government.

Keywords:   girl child, development studies, feminist advocacy, investment in girls, UNICEF, the Girl Effect

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