The Nation celebrates
National Girl Child Day tomorrow. On 24th January every year, we
celebrate the girl child, acknowledge her equal status and position in
society and together we commit to fight the disadvantages,
discriminations and inequalities the girl child faces in our society.
However, it is very unfortunate and extremely alarming that since 1961
the child sex ratio in the country has been declining steadily. This is
2017 and we are nearing the end of the second decade of the 21st century
and yet we have not been able to reverse the trend.
For an educated, economically independent woman, respected both at work
and at home, it is difficult to imagine the reality that a large number
of people from cross sections of the Indian society desire only a son
and do not wish to have a daughter. And that they would go to any length
to do sex selective elimination of the female foetus.
Despite having some girls who are really high achievers in various
fields, the stark reality for most girls born in India is that they are
still deprived of basic rights like equal access to education, health,
married off early as child etc. As a result, they remain economically
disempowered, abused and violated. As per Census data, the Child Sex
Ratio (CSR) has declined from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to
918 in 2011. This is a major indicator of women disempowerment as it
reflects both pre-birth discrimination manifested through gender biased
sex selection, and post birth discrimination against girls.
Widespread social discriminations against girls, easy availability,
affordability and subsequent misuse of diagnostic tools, have
cumulatively proved critical in lowering the CSR. This alarming reality
had to be addressed, resulting in the roll out of Beti Bachao Beti
Padhao (BBBP) Scheme which was designed and conceptualized after a
series of multi-sectoral pan India consultations.
Launched by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on 22nd January, 2015
at Panipat, Haryana, the primary objective of BBBP is to improve the
declining CSR and address other related issues of women empowerment,
over a life-cycle continuum. This two year old Scheme is a
tri-Ministerial effort of Women and Child Development (WCD), Health &
Family Welfare and Human Resource Development; WCD being the nodal
Ministry. This Scheme is unique as it systematically challenges
mindsets, customs and deep rooted patriarchy prevalent in Indian
A multi-sectoral strategy has been adopted to implement BBBP, comprising
of a nation-wide awareness and advocacy campaign targeted at changing
mindsets, focused community outreach through local innovative
interventions; enforcement of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic
Techniques (PC&PNDT) Act by the Union Health Ministry and encouraging
girl’s education through girl friendly infrastructure in schools and
effective implementation of the Right to Education.
BBBP was rolled out in 100 Districts across the country initially.
During the last one year it has been able to create visibility and buzz
in the community through extensive advocacy campaigns run on various
media including Radio, Television, Cinema, Digital Media and Social
Media The campaign challenged son-centric rituals and regressive social
norms by collective community action such as celebration of birth of
girl child, promotion of simple weddings, supporting women’s rights to
inherit and own property, rewarding local champions who have defied
social norms, engaging youth including men and boys. . It succeeded in
highlighting the problem of decline in CSR through display of gender
disaggregated data (Guddi-Gudda Boards) on birth of girls and boys.
The campaign engaged with communities for orientation and sensitization
at multiple levels through holding dialogues through Gram Panchayats at
various levels. Frontline Workers like Accredited Social Health Activist
(ASHA), AnganWadi Worker (AWW), Auxiliary Nursing Midwife (ANM) and Self
Help Group members, elected representatives, religious leaders,
community leaders etc. were involved in such dialogues.
Social Media platforms have also been optimised for enhanced outreach on
BBBP, especially amongst the youth, for spreading positive messages
about value of girl child in the public domain.
In the second year of implementation of BBBP, the focus is being
expanded to the stringent implementation of PC & PNDT Act and also with
a special focus by Ministry of Human Resource Development on girls’
education. Measures like increased emphasis on early registration of
pregnancy, institutionalised deliveries and birth registration are also
being taken care of.
As on date, BBBP is getting implemented in 161 districts. The
preliminary reports from 100 districts are heartening. It indicates that
between April-March, 2014-15 and 2015-16, an increasing trend in Sex
Ratio at Birth (SRB) is visible in 58 BBBP districts; 69 districts have
reported progress in the first trimester registration against the
reported ANC registrations and status of institutional deliveries have
improved in 80 districts against the total reported deliveries in
comparison to the previous year. The Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) touching
the 900-mark for the first time in almost two decades in December 2016
in Haryana, notorious for its skewed sex ratio, has been widely reported
in the media.
Engaging with Civil Society, International Organizations and Industrial
Associations has been consciously undertaken by the Ministry of Women &
Child Development to ensure sustained engagement of various stakeholders
on the issue. This conscious engagement has motivated the civil society
organizations working in this sector to re-align their campaign with
For the girl child to flourish in India, it is paramount that BBBP is a
roaring success and the success achieved in the first year clearly
indicate that it very much possible as all stakeholders have joined
hands to remove the stigma of adverse child sex ratio from the country.
*Author is a freelance writer and a development communication
professional, currently serving as Head, Communication at SOS Children's
Villages of India. She acknowledges inputs received from the Programme
Management Unit, BBBP, M/o Women & Child Development. Views are