Alarmed by reports of female foeticide, Rajasthan to adopt a new girl child policy
Spurred by alarming reports of female foeticide continuing unabated across the State, the Rajasthan Government has initiated the process for adoption of a new girl child policy with emphasis on saving the female foetus as well as newborn girls. The policy will be the first of its kind anywhere in the country.
Principal State Women & Chid Development Secretary Sarita Singh said at a workshop on gender-based discrimination here on Friday that the policy is being formulated on a request made by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in view of the declining sex ratio. Rajasthan has a skewed sex ratio of 863 girls for every 1,000 boys, according to the 2011 Census projections.
“In addition to the specific emphasis on saving girls, the policy will also address the important issue of child rights,” said Ms. Singh. Besides, it would comprise a chapter devoted to the role, contribution and responsibilities of civil society organisations.
Addressing the valedictory session of the two-day workshop, Ms. Singh called upon non-government organisations and voluntary groups working for gender equality to submit their suggestions to the State Government for promoting a “positive mind-set” about girls.
“All tendencies giving secondary status to women must be nipped in the bud as they are responsible for the disquieting trend of girls being killed in the womb,” said Ms. Singh. Movies justifying discrimination against women and depicting them in poor light must be banned, she added.
The workshop was organised jointly by Action Aid and civil society groups Prayatn and Jago Sakhi Seva Sansthan to highlight women’s struggles in the desert State. Global bodies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Plan International were also represented at the event.
Deliberating on the issue of gender budgeting, about which the State Government has been making tall claims, the participants felt that funds for the purpose were insufficient in most of the departments.
Besides, officers at the block level are usually ignorant of the concept and they spend the money allocated for women on general work.
Four working groups were formed on the workshop’s last day to deal with different aspects of saving girls and forming linkages with different sections of society.
The first group was devoted to youths, adolescents and children, second to government agencies, third to professional associations and fourth to caste and community elders and religious leaders.
Women’s rights consultant Vijaylakshmi Joshi said formulation of women-oriented policies will help improve governance. She said the conventional patriarchal preference for male children is responsible for sex-selective abortions.
Plan International State head Rajiv Nagpal said an honest and transparent universal birth registration system could help check female foeticide to a significant stand. Gujarat-based activist Sofia Khan said associating the progressive groups of creative people will help in generating awareness on the subject.
Pryatn chief executive Malay Kumar pointed out that women’s movement in the State had picked up momentum after the infamous Deorala Sati incident in 1987.
It later assumed the shape of a public movement with groups joining in to raise the issues of domestic violence, minimum wages, right to information, employment guarantee and declining sex ratio.
“Considering the changes in [broader] policy environment and social situations, we need to sharpen our strategies to develop a better response and address women’s issues in an effective manner,” said Mr. Kumar.
Others who addressed the workshop on the concluding day included UNICEF State chief Samuel Mawunganidze, Save the Chidren State coordinator Prabhat Kumar, Action Aid regional manager Shabnam Aziz and Dignity of Girl Child Foundation president Meeta Singh.
The details of the “ Chaahat Hai Jiney Ki ” (We Yearn To Live) project launched by Prayatn with the support of Action Aid in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were also provided in the workshop.
The project has emerged as a role model in Dholpur, Jhalawar, Karauli and Morena districts by developing cadre with the participation of about 10,000 activists and 5,000 adolescent boys and girls.
‘Movies justifying discrimination against women, depicting them in poor light must be banned’
Block level officers spend money allocated for women on general work