With Anandi Patel becoming the first woman chief minster of Gujarat, there has been a renewed focus on the issue of female foeticide and the skewed sex ratio of the state. Patel has alluded to the subject at almost all her public appearances since taking over the top job last month. The ongoing Shala Praveshotsav, the annual school enrollment drive of the state government, is proving to be the best platform for the CM to raise her voice to save the girl child.
Patel began her one-day trip to Bhavnagar on Friday by flagging off a women’s scooter rally to raise awareness on female foeticide and malnutrition among women. Around 250 women of the city participated in the rally which culminated at the venue for Shala Praveshotsav on Ghogha Road.
“We’ll have to end the culture of bias towards girl child and it is our moral responsibility to educate our daughters and sisters. An educated girl will make her parents and her in-laws proud. To protect the very fabric of our society, it is high time we stood up against the practice of female foeticide,” Patel said, while addressing parents and students at Chandramauli school in Bhavnagar on Friday.
In fact, the model guidelines, issued by the State Education Department to conduct programmes of Shala Praveshotsav, enlist saving the girl child as one of the five topics on which a student would deliver a speech. “Yes, there is an emphasis on saving the girl child and its education. This is the reason the exercise is also called Kanya Kelavani Rath (Girl Child Education Drive), along with Shala Praveshotsav,” said Narendra Ardeshana, chief administrative officer of Rajkot Municipal School Board.
The three-day drive in urban areas comes to an end on Saturday. The same drive for rural areas was conducted from June 12 to June 15.
According to the 2011 Census, there are 919 women per 1,000 male in Gujarat. This sex ratio is lower, compared with the national average of 940. In fact, the ratio has worsened in the last decade. It was 921 in 2001. However, what worries the government even more is the worsening child sex ratio. According to the 2001 Census, 964 girls were born against 1,000. However, this number tumbled down to 890 by 2011.
Incidentally, Patel had sought the cooperation of spiritual leaders in fighting the evil of female foeticide while speaking at a religious function near Chotila early this month. Kickstarting the Shala Praveshotsav on June 12 in Junagadh, she had urged parents to help state government fight the menace. She had spoken more on the issue than on the housing schemes of the state government while drawing the lots for 8,000 dwelling units being constructed by the Gujarat Housing Board (GHB) across the state in Rajkot last week.