A Battle for GirlsThe status of women in society is one of the worst forms of
contradictions of modern India, where on the one hand, women occupy
positions of power and influence in various fields, and on the other
hand, they face systematic discrimination that starts before birth and
Census figures show an alarming trend. In 2001, in Gujarat, Haryana,
Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh, the birth rate of girls was 900 or fewer
for every 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6. In 10 years, the red patch
in the census map that indicates this bottom percentile in sex ratio
had spread to seven states in west and north India. The green patch,
indicating states with a healthy ratio of 951-975 girls for every 1,000
boys, had also shrunk.According to the 2011 census, the national average is 918 girls for every 1,000 boys.
In January 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Beti Bachao
Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme – a comprehensive program to prevent
gender-biased sex selection before birth, elimination of female fetuses,
survival and protection of the girl child, and education and
participation of the girl child for her own development. Alongside, the
government launched the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, a special deposit
account scheme for girls.Says an official from the BBBP Program Management Unit, “The census
trend is a manifestation of gender inequality in a society where sons
are preferred to carry on the family name and inheritance, and expected
to take care of parents in their old age. Girls are associated with
dowry at the time of marriage, and hence a burden for parents.”Beti Bachao Beti Padhao – Program BasicsThe BBBP program is a multi-sectoral, interministerial initiative with
the goal to improve the child sex ratio in 100 districts across the
country where the ratio is critically low. It’s a first of its kind
program with defined, monitorable targets and a multi-tiered
implementation strategy that involves the Ministry of Women and Child
Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Human
Resource Development, states and union territories, district
administrations, village bodies, and the local community.
One of the main goals of BBBP is to improve the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB)
in 100 “gender critical” districts by 10 basis points in a year.
Another goal is to reduce gender differentials in the under-five child mortality rate from 8 points in 2011 to 4 points by 2017.
Elected representatives and grassroots functionaries will be trained as
community champions to mobilize communities to improve Child Sex Ratio
(CSR) and promote girls’ education.
The core strategies around which the program is built are:
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