Rashtriya Balika Diwas is a day dedicated towards the welfare of the girl child in India. The day is observed on 24th January every year to address the needs and concerns of a girl child’s health, nutrition and education among the masses. The day is also meant to inform young girls about legislations such as: Dowry Prohibition Act 2006, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 and Domestic Violence Act 2009, in order to be better prepared to face the numerous challenges in her life. The term ‘Rashtriya Balika Diwas’is of Hindi origin and stands for National (rashtriya) Girl Child (balika) Day (divas). Girl child day is observed because girl child in India faces various types of discriminations and negative social attitudes. The girl child in India is killed, mistreated and abused in most of the families. As per the government records – “The 1991 Census of India highlighted a serious and worsening decline in the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group. The 2001 Census revealed a further decline in the 0-6 age group and an even lower female-male ratio in the 15 to 19 age group”. These figures are the result of the rising prevention of female births, and the incidence of female infanticide and deliberate neglect of girl children’s health, nutrition and safety. As per savegirchild.org - India represents one of the most adverse Child Sex Ratio (CSR) figures amongst the Southeast Asian countries. As of 2011 records the sex ratio of India is 940 women per 1000 men.
Girl Child India: Facts and Figures (as per savegirchild.org)
India witnesses more than 27, 00,000 child deaths a year, with the figures for female children being much higher than male children
53% of girls in the age group 5 to 9 years are illiterate
75% of married Indian women were underage when they got married
One in every two girls in India is malnourished
Out of the 12 million girls born in India, 1 million die before the first year of life
One out of sixth girl child dies due to gender discrimination
One out of every 10 women report instances of child sexual abuse (CSA)
Female mortality is higher in 224 out of 402 districts in India
Such conditions are not conducive for any society both socially and economically. Marriage of men will become more difficult resulting in rise of crime rate and will further deteriorate the position of women. On the economic front the resulting crime will raise the expenditure of government which will increase the already existent deficit. Fewer women mean fewer workforces which could have contributed in the gross domestic product (GDP).
Rashtriya Balika DiwasHistory
The initiative of setting up this day as a Rashtriya Balika Diwas was undertaken by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government during 2009. The date 24th marks the day in 1966 when Indira Gandhi became the ‘First Woman Prime Minister of India’. At the international level, various countries have their separate ‘Girl Child Day’; India didn’t have such a specific day. The Ministry of Women and Child Development took the initiative of implementing and organising the day. To address the urgent need to raise awareness and improve the status of girl child, Planning Commission constituted a Working Group on “Development of Children” for the Eleventh Five Year Plan. This was done under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development. The
Working Group set up four Sub-Groups of which one of the Sub-Group is on “Girl Child”. It came up with certain suggestions/recommendations which have been implemented and are being implemented to improve the status of girl child. Dowry Prohibition Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, free and compulsory education for the girl child, awareness campaigns and many more are producing good results. Nonetheless, a lot still needs to be done.
Girl Child Day (India)Events and Activities
The government ministry participates by organising functions for the cause along with NGO’s and other organisations. These are presided by important dignitaries of the central administration. Public speeches are special part of these proceedings.
Various state departments of child development, education, health, women, mahila mandals and others also organise functions and exhibitions.
Cultural events comprising of song and dance sequence dedicated to the girl child are organised in various concerned institutions.
Girl students are honoured for their outstanding achievements in various fields at State level functions organized by the respective departments.
Slogan writing competitions are organised in schools.
Documentaries and short films raising this issue are telecast on national television.
Banners and posters are placed by the local authorities at specific public spots to create awareness.
Alternate Names – Girl Child Day, National Girl Child Day