“An educated Girl will stay healthy, save money, build a business, empower her community, lift her country and change the world.”
Background: The current census (2011) data has revealed a declining trend in Child Sex Ratio (CSR) between 0-6 years with an all time low of 919. India has not improved gender indicators especially related to Sex Ratio and CSR. The issue of declining CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment as it begins before birth, manifests in gender biased sex selection and elimination and continues in various forms of discrimination towards girl child after birth in fulfilling her health, nutrition and education needs. The practice of sex selective elimination of the female fetus due to easy availability and affordability of medical diagnostic tools has been a critical influencer of the skewed sex ratio. Further, there is little doubt that strong socio-cultural and religious biases, preferences for sons in almost all Indian communities has also shaped societal attitudes towards girls.
Given the complexity of the issue, there is a need for coordinated and multi sectoral convergent action including Information Education and Communication (IEC) and Behavior Change Communication (BCC) campaigns and community mobilization initiatives towards improving CSR, promoting the value of the girl and highlighting the importance of empowering her with education. A campaign like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao can not only draw the attention of the masses to a grave concern like declining CSR but also lead to change the mindsets towards empowering daughters through education.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: Realizing the gravity of the issue, it was highlighted in the Address to the Joint Session of the Parliament by the President in June, 2014 and thereafter, in the Budget speech of the Government. Since coordinated and convergent efforts are needed to ensure survival, protection and empowerment of the girl child, Government has announced Beti Bacho Beti Padhao initiative. This has been launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Panipat, Haryana on Jan 22, 2015. The Government has decided that the Ministry of Women and Child Development shall be the Nodal Ministry for implementing this joint Scheme which will be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The objectives of this initiative are:
- Prevention of gender biased sex selective elimination
- Ensuring survival and protection of the girl child
- Ensuring education and participation of the girl child
The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) initiative has two major components.
(i) Media Campaign and
(ii) Multi-sectoral action in 100 selected districts (as a pilot) with adverse CSR, covering all States and UTs
- Effective implementation of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) is a critical and non-negotiable aspect of this scheme.
- Empowering the girl child through education and creating an enabling environment that provides equal access to education, health, employment/skill development etc. is another critical component.
- Enhancing the value of the girl child through awareness generation is the other critical component. The Media Campaign, geared towards achieving this, would underline the need to use communication that encourages equal value of the girls and emphasize that she is not a liability.
- Gender Equality: BBBP also highlights the need for gender equality enshrined in the Constitution of India and brings out how neglect of girls and discrimination throughout her life cycle leads to an unequal status for the girls. It also aims to break myths about roles of men and women in society so that negative attitudes and behaviors steeped in patriarchy changed.