On May 7th, 2015, Centre for Social Research (CSR) facilitated “Kanya Janm Mahotsay,” an event where 60 parents of girl children aged 0-2 years old celebrated the birth of their daughters. This event took place at the Mamta Anganwadi Centre in Jharsa Village, Gurgaon. Over 250 people came to help celebrate the births of these female children. The audience was comprised of the local population, anganbari workers and dignitaries such as: T.L. Satya prakash, DC Gurgaon, Dr. Pushpa Bishnoi, CMO; Mr. Frederick Erdt, Political Counselor from the German Embassy; and Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of CSR.
Celebrations for the girl child encouraged women and the audience to join in to the festive atmosphere through song in celebration of the girl child. Dr. Kumari inaugurated the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme to take place in the Haryana district, funded by the German Embassy. Mrs. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, the Honourable Minister for Women and Child Development for the Government of India, nominated CSR to implement this programme in five districts of Haryana where the sex ratio is disproportionately low for females. These districts are: Ambala, Kurukshetra, Jhajjar, Mahendergarh and Gurgaon. The aim of the project is to increase public awareness of the importance of the girl children within Indian familial structures and society.
Dr. Mishra addressed the audience about the issues pertaining to Jharsa Village because of the low sex ratio. Sex selection has permeated the boundaries of urbanity and moved into rural spaces to increase the threat of female expulsion from existence. Dr. Kumari brought to bear the lived realities of the girl children from the date of her birth, due to social norms and values that disposition females making them more vulnerable and susceptible to physical and sexual violence in public and private spheres. Dr. Kumari continued to explain CSR’s mandate and its partnership with the government in their continued pursuit of gender equality.
Mr. Erdt expressed his honour and joy in being able to be apart of this celebration of the girl child. He continued to add that the German Embassy has been funding CSR’s project “Meri Shakti Meri Beti” since 2011 to help support the continuous fight for equal rights for the girl child. Mr. Erdt endorsed the German Government’s stance on the necessity n providing gender justice to all, along with the abolition of all forms of discrimination based on sex.
Mr. Satyaprakash confronted the issues of gender violence in India and the plight of women attempting to navigate a patriarchal society. He offered toll free numbers as resources to the audience to help them report cases pertaining to sex selection and violence against women. Dr. Bishnoi continued the discussion through her vivid use of cases of violence and sex selection she has encountered throughout her career. She proceeded by encouraging women to report cases and to feel pride in the birth of a female child, instead of succumbing to societal notions of shame.
The “Asmita” theatre group performed “Dastak,” a play on violence and atrocities perpetrated against females, with specialized parts dedicated to issues of sex selection and social discriminations whereby the birth of a girl child is considered inauspicious. Following the play, the audience was invited into a participatory discussion to address the themes and issues brought forth in the play. Upon completion of the discussion, the fathers were gifted cloth material, the mothers were gifted sarees and the children were gifted toys. The audience received refreshments to ensure the celebratory mood was not lost in discussion. This event was a great success that allowed for CSR and other officials to interact with the targeted communities at the grass root level to help engage them in the pursuit for change.
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