The trend of decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR), defined as number of girls per 1000 of boys between 0-6 years of age, has been unabated since 1961. The decline from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 918 in 2011 is alarming. The decline in the CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment. It reflects both, pre-birth discrimination manifested through gender biased sex selection, and post birth discrimination against girls. Social construct discriminating against girls on the one hand, easy availability, affordability and subsequent misuse of diagnostic tools on the other hand, have been critical in increasing Sex Selective Elimination of girls leading to low Child Sex Ratio.
There are wide variations seen in ratios across different regions of the country. The CSR remains adverse in 21 States and Union Territories, the fall ranging from 3 to 79 points. 11 states and 2 UTs have shown an increase in CSR during the last decade. The district level changes in CSR are much more pronounced as may be seen that out of 640 districts in the country, 429 districts have experienced decline in CSR. The decline is widespread across the country ranging from urban to rural, remote as well as tribal areas.
Coordinated & convergent efforts are needed to ensure survival, protection and education of girl child to help realize her full potential. Recognizing the need for urgent action, Government has announced in the Budget Speech, 2014-15, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme to empower the girl child and enable her education. The issue was highlighted in the Prime Minister’s Independence Day address to the nation on 15th August, 2014.
The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme will be implemented through a national campaign and focussed multi sectoral action in 100 selected districts, covering all States and UTs. Of these, 12 are in Haryana, 11 are in Punjab, 5 in J&K, 2 in Uttarakhand and one each in Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh.This is a joint initiative of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi will launch the Nation-wide campaign at Panipat (Haryana) on January 22, 2015. In the run up to the formal launch, a two-day national workshop on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao will be held at Panipat on January 20 and January 21, 2015. This workshop will be attended by Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt. Maneka Gandhi and addressed by the Chief Ministers of Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal. The thematic sessions will be attended and addressed by senior officers from the centre and the state government and experts on the issues related to the girls’ birth, longevity and education.
Overall Goal of the scheme is to Celebrate the Girl Child & Enable her Education and the
Objectives of the Scheme are as under :
i) To prevent Gender biased sex selective elimination: Focussed intervention targeting enforcement of all existing Legislations and Acts, especially to Strengthen the implementation of Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (PC&PNDT Act) with stringent punishments for violations of the law.
ii) To ensure survival & protection of the girl child: Article 21 of the Constitution defines ‘protection of life and liberty’ as a legitimate right of its citizens. The difference in mortality rates of girls and boys indicates the difference in access to various health care and nutrition services as well as the preferential care and treatment given to boys. The access to various entitlements, changes in patriarchal mind-set etc. are to be addressed in order to ensure equal value, care for and survival of the infant and young girl child. Further implementation of various legislative provisions for the protection of the girl child and women has to be ensured to create a nurturing and safe environment for the girl child.
iii) To ensure education & participation of the girl child: The access and availability of services and entitlements during the various phases of the life cycle of the Girl Child has a bearing on her development. Essential requirements related to Nutrition, Health Care, Education and Protection have to be fulfilled to enable every girl child to develop to her full potential- especially the rightto quality early childhood care, elementary and secondary education. Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2010 provides children the right to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school. Further, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is a flagship programme for achievement of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, as mandated by 86th amendment to the Constitution of India making free and compulsory Education to the Children of 6-14 years age group, a Fundamental Right. Denial of these entitlements is a violation of children’s rights,
which will have a lasting lifelong negative impact. This will also adversely impact upon future human development.
Discrimination and neglect of girl child can lead to low self-esteem, lifelong deprivation and exclusion from the social mainstream. Appropriate initiatives will be taken to encourage girls to express their views and to be heard, to participate actively, effectively and equally at all levels of social, economic, and political leadership.
Long term interventions for gender equality would focus on creating enabling environment including employable opportunities, safety & security, mobility & speedy justice.
The Objectives stated above will be achieved through Convergence and Coordination with concerned Ministries/Departments/
i) Improve the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) in 100 gender critical districts by 10 points in a year.
ii) Reduce Gender differentials in Under Five Child Mortality Rate from 8 points in 2011 to 4 points by 2017.
iii) Improve the Nutrition status of girls – by reducing number of underweight and anaemic girls under 5 years of age (from NFHS 3 levels).
iv) Ensure universalization of ICDS, girls’ attendance and equal care monitored, using joint ICDS NRHM Mother Child Protection Cards.
v) Increase the girl’s enrolment in secondary education from 76% in 2013-14 to 79% by 2017.
vi) Provide girl’s toilet in every school in 100 CSR districts by 2017.
vii) Promote a protective environment for Girl Children through implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012.
viii) Train Elected Representatives/ Grassroot functionaries as Community Champions to mobilize communities to improve CSR & promote Girl’s education.
The scheme is envisaged for focused interventions to improve the CSR, within an overall National Strategy for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. Recognizing that the issue of decline in Child Sex Ratio is complex and multi-dimensional, it shall be addressed within the broad framework of survival, protection and education of girl children. A multi- sectoral strategy which is governed by the core principles of respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of girls and women, including the ending of gender based violence will be adopted. The core strategies will be as follows:
i) Evolving a sustained Social Mobilization and Communication Campaign to change societal norms, to create equal value for the girl child.
ii) Positioning improvement in the Child Sex Ratio as a lead development indicator for good governance.
iii) Focusing on very low Child Sex Ratio or gender critical districts and cities for accelerated impact.
iv) Mobilizing and empowering frontline worker teams as catalysts for social change, in partnership with local community/women’s/youth groups (Ahimsa Messengers).
v) Developing capacity of Panchayati Raj Institutions/Urban local bodies – especially women panchayat /urban local body members, to create community and peer support for making panchayats / urban wards girl child friendly.
Components of the Scheme:
i) Mass Communication Campaign on Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao : A nation-wide campaign will be initiated with the launch of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” to increase awareness on celebrating Girl Child & enabling her education. The campaign will be aimed to ensure that girls are born, nurtured and educated without discrimination to become empowered citizens of this country with equal rights.
ii) Multi-Sectoral intervention in 100 Gender Critical Districts worse on CSR: MWCD will initiate a Multi-Sectoral Action in selected 100 districts covering all States/UTs for schematic intervention. Sectoral actions are drawn in consultation with M/o H&FW & M/o HRD. Measurable outcomes and indicators will bring together concerned sectors, states and districts for urgent concerted Multi-Sectoral Action to improve the CSR.
At the Centre, linkages under the proposal shall be established with concerned line ministries/departments namely Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD) & Ministry of Women & Child Development (MoWCD). At the States/UTs level, Dept. of WCD will work in close coordination with these concerned departments for inclusion of issue of Child Sex ratio as a priority agenda. Further, Linkages will also be strengthened with the existing government training institutions and Autonomous Training Institutes at national and State Levels to provide training on matters related to CSR. Sharing of good practices with line departments/states for encouraging adoption of good practices would be done.
At the District level, appropriate linkages with Panchayats, Anganwadi Centres, PHCs will also be strengthened. Grassroot functionaries of different departments shall be sensitized & trained on the issue of CSR, value of girl child & promote her education and will in turn facilitate community ownership and participation on creating an enabling environment for survival, protection & education of girl child.
At the National level, a National Task Force for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao headed by Secretary, WCD with representation from concerned ministries namely Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Human Resource Development, National Legal Services Authority, Department of Disability Affairs and Ministry of Information & Broadcasting; Gender Experts and Civil Society representatives. The Task Force will provide guidance and support; finalize training content; review state plans and monitor effective implementation. A sub group would be constituted for a Joint Communication Action Committee (JCAC) with representatives from relevant ministries to work out the joint and comprehensive National Communication and Media Campaign. This would be convened every quarter.
At the State level, the States shall form a State Task Force (STF) with representation of concerned Departments (Health & Family Welfare; Education; Panchayati Raj/ Rural Development) including State Level Services Authority and Department of Disability Affairs for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao to coordinate the implementation of the Scheme. As the issue requires convergence & coordination between Departments, the Task Force would be headed by the Chief Secretary. In UTs the Task Force would be headed by Administrator, UT Administration. Department of Women & Child Development will have the responsibility of coordinating all the activities related to implementation of the Plan in the State/UTs through the Directorate of ICDS.
At the District level, a District Task Force (DTF) led by the District Collector/Deputy Commissioner with representation of concerned departments (Health & Family Welfare; Appropriate Authority (PC&PNDT); Education; Panchayati Raj/ Rural Development, Police) including District legal Services Authority (DLSA) will be responsible for effective implementation, monitoring & supervision of the District Action Plan.
At the Block level, a Block level Committee would be set up under the Chairpersonship of the Sub Divisional Magistrate/Sub Divisional Officer/Block Development Officer for effective implementation, monitoring & supervision of the Block Action Plan.
At the Gram Panchayat/Ward level, the respective Panchayat Samiti/Ward Samiti having jurisdiction over the concerned Gram Panchayat/Ward and At Village level, Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committees will guide and support el implementation and monitoring of the plan. Frontline workers AWWs, ASHAs & ANMs will catalyze action on ground by creating awareness on the issue.
A budgetary allocation of Rs. 100 Cr. has been made under the budget announcement for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign and Rs. 100 Cr. will be mobilized from Plan Outlay of the Planned scheme ‘Care and Protection of Girl Child – A Multi Sectoral Action Plan” for the 12th Plan. Additional resources can be mobilized through Corporate Social Responsibility at National & State levels. The estimated cost of the Scheme is Rs. 200 cr. Out of 200 cr. Rs. 115 cr. is proposed to be released during the current year i. e 2014-15 (for six month) . Rs. 45 Cr. and 40 cr. will be released during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively.
A Monitoring System will be put in place right from National, State, District, Block and Village levels to track progress on monitorable targets, outcomes and process indicators. At the national level, a National Task Force headed by Secretary MWCD will monitor quarterly progress on a regular basis. At state level, a State Task Force headed by the Chief Secretary will monitor progress. At the district level, the District Collectors (DC) will lead and coordinate action of all Departments through District-level officials. They shall also undertake monthly review of the progress on the activities listed in the Department Plans of action at the district level. DC will have the overall responsibility for validating the measurable changes in identified indicator related to CSR.
The Scheme would be evaluated at the end of the 12th Five Year Plan to assess its impact and take corrective measures. Mapping of Ultra-sonography machines, baseline survey of concurrent assessment of % age of births of male & female child, reporting of complaints under PC& PNDT act will also help in assessing the impact or outcome.