Every year, the 24th January is celebrated as National Girl Child Day since 2009. On 24th January 1966, Smt. Indira Gandhi became first woman Prime Minister of India, therefore, 24th January was selected as National Girl Child Day to commemorate the event.
The primary objective of the National Girl Child Day is raising awareness and consciousness of the society towards the girl child. The primary aim is to ensure that every girl is respected and valued in Indian society.
On this day, the Women and Child Development Ministry take up multi-pronged approach for addressing as well as working towards the trend of diminishing child sex ratio in India. The initiatives like these ensure that girl child is born as well as nurtured in a way that it gives them equal opportunities as well as rights like those to the boys.
On the National Girl Child Day, the aim is to address issues related to health, education and nutrition of the girl child. The State's Women and Child Development Department instructed the District Programme Officers of various states of India to organise programmes for the National Girl Child Day.
Save girl child, educate her, pleads Modi
Launching the ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ scheme in Haryana, he said we must fight female foeticide and celebrate the birth of a girl child.
The ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ scheme, which seeks to address gender imbalance and discrimination against the girl child, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Panipat in Haryana on Thursday.
This is the fourth major scheme of his government after Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and ‘Make in India’ campaign.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Modi begged the people with open hands to save the lives of the girl child and also administered them an oath to fight female foeticide, celebrate the birth of a girl and educate them.
He lamented that we all feel that daughters are “paraya dhan” or that they would go away after marriage and are also not fed on par with the sons.
“People say in old age sons come in handy. Had that been true, so many old age homes would not have opened. Sons have cars and bungalows and yet, many times, parents remain in old age homes. On the other hand, there are innumerable daughters who work hard to keep their parents happy. If girls get the chance, they perform better than boys.”
The Prime Minister said “it is our responsibility to wake up the society and to realise our responsibility. It is due to family and societal pressure that girls are killed in the womb. He also pointed out how, in some places, girl child was drowned at times in milk. This used to happen after their birth and after they had seen the face of their mother. But we are worse, we kill girls in the womb.”
Mr. Modi also asked doctors if female foeticide was the only way to earn money and will such money do them any good. “You have been taught to save the lives of people, not to kill innocent girls.”
He recalled how when some years ago a boy, Prince, fell into a tube well in a village in Kurukshetra district of Haryana, people tracked his rescue for days and women prayed for him across the country. “But why don’t we show same concern for numerous girls who are killed in the womb?” he asked.
Mr. Modi said “today we are taking a very important responsibility on the soil of Panipat. Till we are compassionate about this scheme and aware, we will not only be harming ourselves but also our future generations. I am glad Ms. Gandhi chose Haryana for this programme, but this message is for every family, village and State in the country.”
He said “beta-beti ek samman” (equal treatment of boys and girls) should be our motto. “Have we ever imagined that if present gender imbalance continued, then what would be the repercussion? For every 1,000 boys, 1,000 girls should be born. See Mahendergarh and Jhajjar districts where there are just about 775 girls for 1,000 boys and so about 225 boys would remain unmarried. If daughters are not born, where will you get your daughters-in-law from? We want educated daughters-in-law, but think so many times before educating our daughters. Educating our daughters is also our responsibility,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Modi said Panipat is also the birthplace of famous Urdu poet Altaf Husain Hali who had spoken about women empowerment in the 19th century thus:
Ai maon, behnon, beityon duniya ki zeenat tumsay hai
Mulkon ki basti ho tumhin, qaumom ki izaat tumsay hai
(O Sisters, mothers, daughters U
You are the ornaments of the world
You are the life of the nations
The dignity of civilisations)
Low sex ratio
Mr. Modi had first spoken about this scheme during his Independence Day speech. Subsequently, 100 districts with low sex ratio were identified across the country. Haryana with a declining sex ratio had 12 of them and since Panipat was one of them, it was chosen as the venue for the launch.
Though Mr. Modi was supposed to the come to the venue by a chopper, due to inclement weather and rain in the morning, his travel plan was changed and he reached here by road, which delayed the launch of the programme by over an hour.
Sharing the stage with Hindi film star Madhuri Dixit, who has been made the brand ambassador of the scheme, and Union Ministers Maneka Gandhi, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad, J.P. Nadda, Krishan Pal Gujjar, Birender Singh and Rao Inderjit Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, the Prime Minister flagged off 72 Jan Chetna awareness vans which would visit all these districts and other parts of the country to raise awareness about rising imbalance in sex ratio. Of these, 12 vans would visit the worst affected districts of Haryana.
Mr. Modi also lauded Ms. Dixit for attending the programme to save the daughters of the country despite her mother being in Intensive Care Unit.
‘Sukanya Samruddhi Account’
He launched the ‘Sukanya Samruddhi Account’ scheme under which accounts of girls could be opened from the time of their birth till their attaining the age of 10 by presenting passbooks to five girls. The account can be opened with an amount of Rs. 1000 and in a financial year, a sum of up to Rs. 1.5 lakh can be deposited in it. Investments made under the scheme will also be eligible for exemption under 80C of Income Tax Act, 1961.
Mr. Modi said interest income and withdrawal from the scheme has been exempted from taxation.
At the function, a postage stamp was also released to commemorate the launch of the Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao scheme.
Banners and posters for saving the girl child had been put up all around the venue and on roads leading to it. One of them read: “Tyag aur samarpan sikhati hai beti, naye naye rishtay banati hai beti” (Daughters teach sacrifice and commitment, help forge new relations).
Toilets in schools
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that for the girl child, the State would launch a Haryana Kanya Kosh through which the State would provide Rs. 21,000 to all girls at birth so that they have Rs. 1 lakh in their account at the age of 18. He also declared that toilets will be constructed in all schools for the girl child.
In her address, Union Woman and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said now it has become a matter of existence of women as the sex ratio has declined to 914 which means that about 2,000 girls are killed everyday and this is a matter of shame for any country or society.
In Haryana, the sex ratio in the districts ranges between 875 and 837 which means for every 1,000 boys about 125 to 150 girls are being killed. She said doctors, parents and society are equally to be blamed.
Ms. Gandhi said that to ensure success of the scheme, every child should be born in private or government hospital so that their record is kept. People, she said, should also see the details of the programme being shown on vans. She also demanded gudda-guddi boards to be put up in all villages to see the sex ratio via the number of births of both sexes.