By Saroj Dash
Today is a special day. A day so ingrained in our memory that we all adults and grownups would like to be a child again. Such is the desire of many of my friends. I also want to become a child again where I am not judged, but I am loved and taken care of. Are we doing the same with our children? They are our future and hence the future of this country. Though we have developed in all indicators of child rights, the pace of change is gradual and most often painfully slow. This is especially the case with our girl children.
The lives of girls are always challenging. This is especially true in case of male-dominated societies. The fate of Girl Child in India, as argued by Save the Children, is replete with dangers and risks even before she is born. After birth also she continues to face a difficult life that includes rejection, discrimination and also fear of intimidation if she expresses her future ambition.
A Quint report highlights the social stigma that affects girl children from the very beginning. Titled as Eating After Boys, Poorer Education: Girls are Disadvantaged Early, this report, asserts that stereotypes and social perceptions have contributed to this social imbalance. No amounts of talks and schemes on gender equality seem to be working. Former UNICEF Country Representative to India, Ms. Karin Hulshof in her speech, Child Undernutrition in India: A Gender Issue had warned us about the nutrition challenge that girl children face on a daily basis.
Both girls and boys suffer from fourfold challenges. These pillars are known as i) Survival ii) Development, iii) Protection and iv) Participation. The Prime Minister has given a laudable call of Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao. Odisha government has a dedicated scheme Biju Kanya Ratna Yojana as well. We need also to focus on girl children on this day. Even though the International Girl Child Day is observed on October 11, 2012, and the National Girl Child Day is celebrated on January 24, I feel there is a strong need to integrate girl children into the 14 November celebration of Children’s Day. We need to celebrate the achievements of girls and boys on this day as well.
We have developed a Not-for-Profit platform, Kanyaa Anmol Hai to highlight the beauty and joy of being the parents to a girl. In the last few months, I have dedicated several hours of work in strengthening the perspectives towards gender equality and joyful childhood. As we take this work forward, I would like to invite all young minds and experts to come together to create micro-revolutions in our families and communities. Our team of volunteers is ready to reach you if you need any support regarding the advocacy for girl children.
In this backdrop, Kanyaa Anmol Hai is starting a campaign from today, the 14th November 2018 and will continue till 26th January 2019. During this campaign, we will reach out to young girls, boys, parents, teachers, thinkers and all stakeholders in promoting the messages of survival, development, protection and participation of girl children in our society.
*The author is the Founder and National Coordinator of Kanyaa Anmol Hain programme.