National Girl Child Day

It turns out that 24 January was National Girl Child Day. In a country with an alarming sex ratio and no secret that it values boys over girls, there should be more fanfare about it. The general lack of awareness of such a stipulated day is not a shining testimony to its success.

However, it is young yet and dreams of growing. Pratham Books chose to celebrate this day around the theme of dreaming, using it as a launch pad for their book Mumtaz Embroiders Her Dreams while giving girls a chance to articulate their hopes and dreams.

“No dream is too small to be talked about, no dream is too big that it can’t be fulfilled. So dream, girl, dream!” said Pratham, and invited girls to go ahead and write about their wildest fantasies. And dream they did.

This decision to have a National Girl Child Day was made by the government in 2009, a small step in creating awareness of inequality and social injustices faced by girls and women in our country that affect issues of food security, health, sanitation, education and more. This included the launch a sustained campaign to create awareness about female foeticide, domestic violence and malnutrition in women and children by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, using TV and print advertisements and school lessons on gender equality. There have been some schemes launched since, including the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, SABLA, targeting girls aged 11 to 18, and the Dhanlakshmi scheme that consists of conditional cash awards to the family of a girl child in school up to the eighth standard.

But in the Pratham contest, one girl writes: “I want my mother to help me but my mother likes only my small brother.” Telling and poignant, and also unfortunately a reality. It needs to change, and soon.


5 Replies to “National Girl Child Day”

  1. *gasp* It stole your bday! With such tactics I am sure the organization will go far 🙂

  2. Yep the hypocrisy in these matters is amazing. Sometimes I almost wish the government would allow clinics to reveal the gender of the baby so those who want to can go ahead and abort. What’s the point in allowing girls to grow older and then do them in after inflicting mental/physical torture?

  3. I wonder how effective the law banning prenatal sex determination has been. We all know how efficiently implementation of laws works out here anyway. The preference for sons is too deeply entrenched in our culture, I suppose, and it’s naive to think that things are getting any better.

    Did you read this news story about affluent Indians traipsing across to Thailand to get their precious baby boys? There’s also a prevailing notion that sex selection happens in a certain class, and that educated, urban, middle-class and upper-middle-class parents are equally open to boys and girls. Call me cynical, but I have trouble believing that. Just open your eyes and look around for proof!

    Phew, end of rant!

  4. Yes I’ve seen that story. To be expected, was my reaction. It’s a complete misconception that this happens only in a certain class. I can speak from experience. After my daughter was born I banned the b-word (boy) in my house.
    Also I found the whole ‘if you have a boy and a girl your family will be complete’. My parents have two daughters – is their family incomplete? Yes, if you talk to most people their age and even some younger people!

  5. Yes, I always find that “complete family” argument ridiculous and hilarious!

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