A River takes birth from the womb of mountains and flows to her ultimate destination of Ocean, passing through various difficult paths, having thorny and marshy land between. Sometimes her way is very easy and peaceful, and sometimes she has to carve out her own path herself struggling very hard to prove her ability and to meet her only lover, the Ocean. Despite all adversities, when she clears all the problems and meets her destination, she achieves the ultimate sublime perfection of her life. Sometimes some unfortunate rivers cannot meet their destination source and looses their existence in between the desert or land. This example more or less resembles to the position of our Darling Daughters, some of whom are not proved as fortunate in comparison to sons.
Daughters: Darling or Doomed??
Gunvant Shah, a famous writer says; “when the fragrance of mallet, glorious nature of rose and divinity of coral tree flower gets accumulated in a dew drop, a family gets the mercy in the form of Daughter.”
A daughter is a soft, divine and celestial bud of beautiful flower, born to bloom and to spread fragrance of her love and care around. She takes birth with the wings of dreams and ambitions; she grows up with her fragile and fairy nature, she teaches and spreads the message of love and empathy throughout her life. Her presence in family fills the atmosphere with liveliness and happiness. She asks for nothing except love and care. Despite all these, are we successful to respect her dignity and to care for her fragile nature? Are we able to strengthen her wings of ambitions and dreams?? Perhaps, not all the time!
If we throw a glance at our glorious past, we will feel shameful to see the fact that even in the history; daughters are not given the place of dignity and respect. It could be in the form of slavery prevailed in early colonial period, or it also could be in the form of killing daughters by brutally dipping them deep in boiling milk pots, often prevailed in rigid Indian society. We do not need to be much happy by thinking that now the society has modernized and thankfully all such evils do not exist here anymore. Because even in 21st century and so called modern period the position of daughters are not that much advanced. Even today, we continue to propagate the exploitation of softer buds called daughters under the name of female foeticide, child marriage, forced marriage, gender bias, dowry etc. In most sub Saharan African countries and Asian countries, girls are forced to marry at early age. People believe that boys should be educated as they are the leaders of families, whereas girls need not to be educated, as they have to stay at home and fulfill household duties ONLY! This gender bias prevailed in patriarchal society leads to the exploitation of girls in many ways, ranging from their own ambitions and dreams to their physical violence. Education brings the light of knowledge and awareness, but girls, deprived of this basic education, remains in the darkness of ignorance throughout their whole life.
What Do Facts Speak?
Female foeticide is the basic devil that snatches away the basic right to live from girls. Natural ratio of boys and girls is considered 103 to 107 boys per 100 girls. But any number above this authentic figure, is considered as suggestive of Female Foeticide .
It is also believed that death rate of girls in their 1st year of life is up to 3 times higher in rural areas than in urban areas. The risk of death is 3 times higher for second girls than first girls. In China, reports say that gender ratio for new borns in 2005 was 118 boys for every 100 girls. Surprisingly in some Southern regions like Guangdong and Hainan, this number has reached to 130 boys for every 100 girls. According to Chinese Census 2000, the average sex ratio is 117, with Tibet having the lowest at 103 and Hainan registering the highest at 136. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute in Washington D.C. states that; 25 million men in China currently can’t find brides because there is a shortage of women.
The same worse condition prevails in India, where in 1961 the sex ratio of 0- 6 age group was 102 males per 100 females. But unfortunately this number continue to increase with the passage of time from 104.1 in 1981, 107.8 in 2001 and 108.8 in 2011. This sex ratio is highest in some western and northwestern states of India like Punjab, Haryana and Jammu Kashmir, having the sex ratio of 120, 118 and 116 respectively. Experts who have analyzed the National Family Health Survey 2 (NFHS2) estimates that about 300 000 girls go missing in India each year. China, Pakistan, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Southeast European countries have even higher sex ratio than India.
Basic education is a dream for the girls of some ill-fated countries. UNICEF reports say that 31 million girls of primary school age and 34 million girls of lower secondary school age were not enrolled in school in 2011. Only 2 out of 35 countries of Sub Saharan Africa have equal gender parity, becoming the lowest proportion of countries with gender parity. In countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, formal or written threats are given to close the girls’ schools. This has fueled gender-motivated attacks on schools.
Social customs and people consider girls as a responsibility and burden. So they are forced to get marry at early age. Highest rate of Child Marriage is found in South Asia 29 %, followed by West and Central Africa with 25 % and Eastern and Southern Africa having 20%. In India, between the years of 2002 to 2012, 47.4% girls were married before completing the age of 18 years. 18.2% girls are married before the age of 15 years. Moreover, 22% women between the age of 20 to 24 years old gave birth to their children before attaining the age of 18. Globally about one third of women aged 20 to 24 were child brides. It is estimated that if all girls had secondary education in Sub Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, Child Marriage would fall by 64% from almost 2.9 million to just over 1 million .
We Can Do..
Above all data and figures are not only horrifying but also alarming!
Many Government and Non Government organizations have made many efforts to eliminate all these worse situations. Through United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), UNICEF is working towards the rights of girls and help countries achieve gender equality in education. UNICEF is the lead agency and hosts the secretariat of UNGEI partnership. It also contributes to build Child Friendly schools, which promote gender equality in classrooms.
The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women covers the right to protection from Child Marriage in Article 16. India has made a wonderful effort by passing Pre-Conception, Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Regulation, and Prevention of Misuse (PCPNDT) Act in 2004 to ban and punish pre-natal sex screening and female foeticide. Another effort named Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) – SABLA launched to empower girls between age of 11 to 18 years by improving their nutritional and health status, up gradation of home skills, life skills and vocational skills. This scheme was initially approved in 200 districts.
Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao
Government of India has initiated this revolution to improve the social status of women and to create awareness for the importance of their lives. Continuous decline in Child Sex Ratio from 945 in 1991 to 918 in 2011, is the biggest indicator of degenerating situation of girls in the country. To ensure the survival, protection and empowerment of girl child, Government of India has taken this initiative. This is a joint initiative of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development. Initially it has been started in 100 selected districts having low CSR, covering all states and UTs. Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao scheme is being implemented through national campaign and focused multi sectoral action, to prevent gender based sex selective elimination, to ensure survival, education and protection of girl child, to improve nutrition status and to promote a protective environment for girl child and to root out female foeticide from the country.
Last but not Least..
Daughters are the divine angels landed on earth directly from heaven. In addition, by sending them here, God has given us an excellent opportunity to serve the Supreme Personality by protecting and caring these little angels. It should be our humble duty to move one-step forward with determination and conscious efforts in the direction of safeguarding, strengthening and empowering the dignity and honor of our Daughters. Their dreams and ambitions are also meant to be fulfilled and not to be crushed brutally, because these innocent souls Too Want to Fly!!