Ever since I became a father of a girl, I became acutely aware and definitely more sensitive about the issues of girl children. I was personally disturbed when the census data for UP and Uttarakhand were released. Both the state had recorded a sharp fall in the child sex ratios (UP - 899 and Uttarakhand - 866). What is more worrying is that this decline in the sex ratio is no more confined to the districts closer to Delhi and Haryana - It is far more widespread and cuts across all classes and rural and urban divide. This is also found in so called educated sections in the society. Child sex ratio of Uttarakhand has dropped drastically to 886 females per 1000 males (A decline from 980/1000 in 2001). In the hills, where life revolves around women as most male members migrate to the cities in search for jobs, this decline in child sex ratio is worrisome.
To tackle this what we need today is a collective effort from all stakeholders - the community, government, media, judiciary and so on. Each of the stakeholders need to clearly understand and re-affirm what they can do to the problem. The preference for the male child should be addressed at the community level and girl child should be treated as equals and a social asset.
The legislative measures (most importantly the Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994) for the protection of girl children should be enforced strictly and this requires a collaboration of all the stakeholder like government, community, doctors and so on.
The launching event of the sex ratio campaign was a heart touching experience for all of us. The launch event of campaign titled - Himmat Hai Jeena Ki (Courage to live) honoured 13 individuals comprising of doctors, anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and women from different parts of UP, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. They also shared their experiences with the audience. The courage and enthusiasm of these individuals was an inspiration to all those who attended.
Renowned activists from the state/country like Subhasini Ali, Rooprekha Verma, Sabu George, Arvind Kumar, senior IAS and so on attended the event along with government officers, media, youth groups and other CSOs. About 300 people from the fields areas of our partners, fellows and on were present in this event. Joana Kerr, CEO, ActionAid International and Sehjo Singh, Director Policy & Programmes at ActionAid India also addressed the audience. Joana shared her personal experience regarding this and also the global trends and rights of women/girl children which is violated in sex selection. In the end the charter of demands was read out which will be submitted to the state government shortly. Media, especially the Hindi press, covered this event widely. A documentation on the stories of courage of individuals who are fighting discrimination against Girl child was also released on this occasion.
The Governor and CM had also kindly sent in their messages for this.This event will definitely give a strong direction to the campaign in UP and Uttarakhand.