Save the Girl Child
“Save the Girl Child” is a social initiative in India to fight against the practice of female foeticide. The initiative also aims are protecting, safeguarding, supporting, and educating the girl child.
Our present Prime Minister has requested every section of the society to give whole-hearted support to the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao“ abhiyan (initiative). ‘Beth Bachao’ means ‘save girl child’ and ‘Beth Padhao’ means ‘educate the girl child.’
Poor households, when faced with the choice, often choose to send their male children to school instead of their female children, instead saddling female children with back-breaking household chores.
Female foeticide is both a national problem and a social evil. It’s unbelievable that the urge for a boy-child makes them so cruel that they dare to kill the yet to be born. The child sex ratio (CSR), according to 2011 population census, was 943 female child for every 1000 male child. The Low CSR may lead to a dangerous situation. As such it is crucial to step in and save the female children.
Causes of female foeticide
Various scholars have suggested different possible causes for the problem of female foeticide.
1. Low position of women: Women have been subjected to injustice since ages. Some people feel that the birth of girl child may lower their status in the society. There is discrimination against the girl child and an extreme desire for boy-child among some sections of our society.
2. Extreme poverty: People who live in extreme poor condition often think that the girl child would cause more economic hardship to them. The social evil of dowry system further worsens the situation. Some people think that they will to have to arrange for huge dowry for her marriage.
3. Illiteracy: Illiteracy is the leading of all social evils. Illiterate people are ignorant people, and not able to judge their actions in the right perspective.
4. Dowry system: Dowry system refers to the custom of paying money and other valuables to the groom’s family at the time of marriage. This tradition was probably introduced to give financial assistance to the newly wed couple. However, often, it is seen that the greedy family members of the groom’s family demand huge amount of money at the time of marriage. Dowry is viewed as a huge burden by the parents of the girl-child. (Please note that dowry is prohibited by law in India. )
How to save girl child?
1. Women empowerment: The women need to be empowered. A woman has every right to give birth to a baby. The girl child is a blessing of God. Just give her a chance, and she will make you proud with her achievements.
2. Awareness: Every citizen of civilized society should be made aware of the fact that a girl child is as important as a boy child. If she gets the right opportunity, she can provide economic support to the family and help them to come out of poverty level.
3. Education: Education raises the consciousness of a person. The mental pattern in favor of society should be transformed. This is the time for historic changes in the society. Both girls and boys should (Also read about women education here.)
4. Love, respect, and equality: Girls, just like their counterparts, deserves true freedom and equality. All children, girls and boys equally, deserve to be treated with love and respect. When we truly treat someone with love, we respect their autonomy and help them to achieve the very best that they can.
How to save girl child after her birth?
The girl child is not only unsafe inside her mother’s womb. Even after her birth, she has to face various hardships because of gender inequality. We must save the girl child after her birth as well. There is something that all of us can do to help girls all over the world.
- We all agree that girls’ education is very important. The girls should get a safe and comfortable environment at schools.
- The girl should get equal access to the educational resources of the school.
- There should be separate toilets for girl-children at schools.
- There is need for a shift in mental attitude in favor of equality between boys and girls.
- The belief that only a male-child can support the parents during the old age doesn’t hold true in today’s context. A girl can take care and support her family as well.
- The family members of the girl child should come forward to protect her rights, both within and outside her home.
- We can reach out to girls in our community and help them with their needs.
- The physical abuse and harassment of girl child should be dealt strictly. The guilty should be punished as per the law.
- Dowry stem should be effectively discouraged through media campaigns. Emphasis should be made to impart moral education to put an end to this evil system.
- Doctors and other medical professions should be encouraged to behave responsibly. They should never indulge in any mal-practices such as prenatal sex determination.
- We can promote strong images of powerful, successful girls and women that will serve as role models and help to combat gender based cultural discrimination.
- We can also donate money to schemes that are designed to help girls, or volunteer with charitable organizations overseas.
- Though Child marriage is illegal, it is still prevalent at many places. It may lead to serious consequences such as teen pregnancy. Sex education, both formal and informal, may help individual make better choices.
- Proper counselling, nutritional, and medical facilities will help in creating a good atmosphere for development of the girl child.
The ‘save the child girl, educate the girl child’ initiative is actively supported by the Government, corporate groups, human rights activists and NGOS.
Under the initiative of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, several social organizations have come forward to build toilet at girl schools.
The corporate India, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is also earmarking funds for the welfare of school going girls.
Legal status of prenatal sex determination
According to the laws prevailing in India, the determination of prenatal sex during pregnancy is illegal and punishable by law.
It is unfortunate that people still misuse the ultrasonography (diagnostic sonography) scan to determine the sex of the unborn baby. There is a need for:
- Strict enforcement of laws relating to medical scanning.
- Impart moral teachings on doctors.
- Educate people that there is no difference between a girl and a boy child.
Save Girl Child is a phrase that ought to be very important to all of us. We still, sadly, live in a very unequal world where girls and women are discriminated against according to their gender. Girls are at greater risk of gender based violence, and also from gendered threats such as female foeticide, forced marriage, lower pay due to gender based discrimination, child pregnancy, lower education levels due to the undervaluing of female education, sexual harrassment and much more. As such, it is important to take care of girl children and to give them all of the opportunities that they need to succeed in life.
We belong to the modern generation of humanity. We seek an environment where every human-being is considered free. We seek an environment where every unborn child is welcomed without any gender bias.
Mahatma Gandhi gave the slogan of ‘do or die’ to his countrymen for the cause of their motherland. The unborn girl-child is also seeking similar spirit among the countrymen in support of her cause.