On the 18th and 19th of February, 2016, at the Senate Hall of the Kurukshetra University, Haryana, CSR organized a “Dialogue: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” with the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) India. The objective of the Dialogue was to collaboratively develop recommendations to address challenges, deepen program impact, and support government activities in relation to the implementation of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao in Haryana. To this end, the Dialogue brought together stakeholders from five skewed sex ratio districts, where CSR has been working as a nodal agency, namely- Gurgaon, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Mahendragarh, and Jhajjar. This Dialogue addressed a key government program of B3P to combat declining sex ratio and for holistic development of girl children through education, a complex socio-economic issue. The Dialogue sought to strengthen government efforts and support a robust, multi-faceted approach to this problem.
As participants were joining in from the five district of BBBP programme implementation mentioned above, a brief press conference was held outside the venue on the first day of the Dialogue i.e. 18th February 2016, with Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director, CSR answering to the queries of print and visual media who assembled there. Among them were media persons from Times of India, Tribune, Dainik Jagran, Punjab Kesri, Aaj Samaj, Nai Duniya, Haryana TV, Kurukshetra News, etc. to name a few.
At the outset of the programme, Dr. Manasi Mishra, Head, Research Division at CSR briefed the participants from the five districts (district authorities, members of civil society organisations, journalists, faculty members, students and volunteers, along with other valuable stakeholders) about the objective and purpose of conducting the Dialogue, along with the significance of selecting the venue and the Centre for Social Research (CSR). Following this, Dr. Kumari not only delivered a formal welcome address to the participating stakeholders and authorities but also shared her noteworthy views and opinions on the issue. She called for a need for social solidarity and unity in raising such critical voices and issues that haunt our women. She thanked HBF of the support and cooperation extended towards the cause of gender equality and social justice to the women in India.
The three sessions of the two day dialogue dialogue included several prominent speakers speaking on various aspects of the issue of sex ratio. Speakers included Dr. Anil Vashisth, Dean of Student’s Welfare, Kurukshetra University; Dr. Axel Harneit-Sievers, (Country Director), Heinrich Böll Stiftung , India; Ms. Shalini Yog Shah, Deputy Director & Coordinator for the Programme on Macroeconomics and Gender, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, India; Dr. Bijayalaxmi Nanda, Associate Professor, Miranda House, Delhi University & Director, GRSF, Campaigner against Sex Selection; Mr. Shyam Sunder Sharma, Secretary, Red Cross Society & PC/PNDT Official, Gurgaon; Mr. Amandeep Chauhan, Drug Control Officer & PC/PNDT Official, Gurgaon; Ms. Shefali Chauhan, Programme Officer, Centre for Catalyzing Change (C3); Ms. Rajbala Kataria, District Programme Officer (ICDS), Ambala; Mr. Kulbeer Malik, Secretary, Red Cross Society & PC/PNDT Official, Kurukshetra; Dr. Satvinder Singh Choudhary, Nodal Officer PC/PNDT, Kurukshetra; Ms. Neeru, District Programme Officer (ICDS), Kurukshetra; Dr. Vandana Dave, Research Officer, Women Studies Department, Kurukshetra University
The dialogue concluded with a presentation of draft recommendations reached at unanimously in the two-day Dialogue by Ms. Ragini Pant, listed below in the form of- Best practices, Challenges, Deepening Impact, and Way Forward.
- The innovative practice of issuing ‘Prashansa Patra’ to the families of the girl children by the grass root workers and supervisors in Kurukshetra.
- Essential kits for the newly born babies were distributed to families with girl children.
- 24th of every month is celebrated as the ‘Kanya Janm Mahotsav’ to felicitate the girl children and families.
- The ten lowest sex ratio villages of each district are inundated with IEC materials and other awareness generation materials/kits regarding the negative consequences of sex selection on the immediate community.
- Plantation of trees in the name of girl child has helped tremendously in Haryana.
- Successful rallies have been conducted involving students, teachers, professors and the district authorities.
- Vending machines for sanitary napkins have been installed in the public schools for girls and were received well by the students and school authorities alike.
- Toll free numbers by the Kurukshetra and Gurgaon Red Cross Societies were made available to public for registering cases under PC/PNDT Act (Sex Determination cases).
- There is a lack of awareness on the part of important stakeholders, community members, and other state/district level actors involved in the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme implementation and its components about the uniqueness of the programme. While in the grass root level the Anganwadi workers implemented it as another programme against ‘Kanya Vrun Hatya’; at the district level the number of clinics raided and PC/PNDT cases registered were given importance. In between, the ‘Padhao’ component gets lost and valuing the worth of girl child as a individual on her own right could not be translated into action.
- Since the implementation have been left in charge of District Programme Officers (DPOs), ICDS, with a brigade of Cluster Development Programme Officers (CDPOs) and ASHA/Anganwadi workers who are all females. They, in turn, find it difficult to discuss the issue with male community members, PRI members, village elders, etc. as purdah system is prevalent in village communities. But, male family members are decision-makers in families. So, the issue remained submerged.
- Involvement of male officials in the issue have remained unseen and absent while grass root level workers often stressed on the fact that male officials presence in village, discussing the issue with village elders will contribute positively for the success of the programme.
- There is a lack of social awareness amongst the community members in regard to ayurvedic medicines which claims that it is for begetting a male child, which are actually fertility medicines. It has not been dealt with seriousness by the district authorities.
- Inclusion of Civil Society in the programme implementation, monitoring and for sustainability.
- The issue is deeply embedded in the socio-cultural fabric. Thus, there is a need of holistic understanding of the issues that intersect with the larger issue of gender imbalance leading to Civilization crisis.
- Gender sensitization trainings are vital for not only the communities and youth but the stakeholders involved in the implementation of B3P in Mini Secretariats of districts.
- The right of women over their bodies must not be comprised by the authorities to chase away targets in the name of ‘tracking of pregnancies’.
- The issue of sex determination is not to be dismissed as a social evil, but need to be dealt with utmost sincerity and efforts while treating it as crime against women from birth to death.
- Special focus must be given to providing adequate facilities/opportunities to the girl child in realising her dreams and aspirations.
- The ‘social insecurity’ aspect of girl/s-only families needs to be specially emphasized under ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, since we need to ensure an overall objective of gender justice, equality and empowerment.
- The Civil Society should be taken in as equal partner in implementing the programme, its monitoring and sustainability for effective translation of empowerment components through holistic development of the girl child.
- The deep rooted causes have to be addressed with a top down approach starting with state level and district level authorities connecting with the village communities.
- A much greater attention needs to be on ‘Beti Padhao’ aspect of the slogan, where immediate attention should be on educating the girl child to the higher levels.
- Proper enrolment and retention of girls in schools must be maintained with provisions for proper hygiene and sanitation, such as adequate functional toilet facilities and drinking water to begin with.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao needs to be aligned with other existing schemes, to avoid any overlapping, confusion and wastage of resources. This will simplify the process for the beneficiaries also.
Ms. Vinita Rawat and Ms. Swati Nagar of CSR team who were engaged in the implementation of B3P in five districts, presented mementoes as token of appreciation to the panellists.
The concluding session was conducted with the kind words from Prof. Anil Vashisth and his inspiring token of appreciation for Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Dr. Manasi Mishra and her team at CSR. Students and volunteers from the Kurukshetra University put forward their views on B3P emphasising on equal opportunities for boys and girls in higher and professional education, skill development and employment. They also urged the stakeholders to consider safety and security of girl children as a issue of ownership by the society. Their voices were moderated by Prof. Sukhbir Lal Khokra, Coordinator, Youth Red Cross Society & Ms. Vanita Dhingra, Student Counsellor, Kurukshetra University. Dr. Mishra concluded the Dialogue with a generous thanking note for Kurukshetra University, HBF, her team, and all significant people who have contributed to the successful two-day Dialogue.
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