“Just like boys, girls can become doctors, lawyers, we can do anything if we have the support. We just want to have the same opportunities.”
– Fatima Ansari, Pakistani Football Player
Since 2012, the United Nations observes ‘International Day of the Girl Child’ on October 11 every year. Its aim is the well-being of girls and the fulfillment of human rights, while focusing on issues related to education, equality, child marriage, menstrual health and gender-based violence.
Women have always contributed considerably to society, taking up every possible job or role that was once considered solely for men. They are proficient in balancing many roles, not just as a wife, daughter or mother, in many family’s girls are the sole bread-winners.
Sadly, there is still a hint of apprehension when a girl child is born in many parts of the country.
Dominant patriarchal perceptions still portray women as liabilities. It is evident in the denial of fundamental rights, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, gender-based discrimination, denial of basic hygiene and education and lack of nutrition.
According to the Indian population census of 2011, there were 933 females per 1000 males. Amidst enforcement of laws protecting their well-being, unborn female fetuses continue to be aborted after illegal prenatal sex determination.
Here are some reasons behind this inhuman act.
- Not valuing girls as humans first
- Lack of education and not realising the potential of women
- Gender-Based discrimination rooted in patriarchal societies
- Economic Burden due to the prevalence of dowry system
- Misuse of Sex-Determination tests
Safeguarding the Girl Child
The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques Act prohibits the determination of sex of the unborn foetus. The Balika Samriddhi Yojana and Sukanya Samridhi Yojana are Government initiatives that aim at helping the economic conditions of the girl child. Government programmes like Save the Girl Child and Beti Bachao, Beti Padao Yojana, are intended to create awareness and improve the welfare services for girls.
After all is said and done, the question remains – Are we willing to change the age-old perception of women being weak and dependent? As the old saying goes, “If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a family”. The truth is educated women have the potential to eliminate social evils and empower women by guiding their family first and in turn the whole nation.