The finance minister’s announcement of launching a Rs 100 crore ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme to sensitise people about gender equality in the country received mixed reactions. “What will save our girls is the law and not monetary incentives,” said Sabu George who has been working for the causes of the girl child for the last 30 years.
George told The Indian Express that the only way to save the girl child was to implement the law. “We have a strong law meant to punish those engaged in the practice of sex determination and sex selective abortion- Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act.
The government has to ensure that they talk tough so that doctors do not indulge in this malpractice,” George said.
Activists welcomed the minister’s statement that the process of sensitisation should begin early and the school curriculum should have a separate chapter on gender mainstreaming. According to Subash Mendapurkar of the Society for Social Uplift, through rural action, there is a need to connect with the communities first, right from the gram panchayat level to ensure gender equality. He has been working on the issue of the girl child specially in Himachal Pradesh. He pointed out that there has been a marginal increase in the child sex ratio. “What we need to do is provide an enabling environment for our girls and educate and inform persons right at the grass root level that there should be no gender bias,”he said.
Kiran Moghe, President of the State All India Democratic Women Association however was critical of budgetary allocation of Rs 200 crore for the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue and a mere Rs 100 crore to save the girl child. “Need I say more,” she said adding that the increase in number of violations against the girl child was on the rise. “There also is a need to launch more dedicated efforts than just allocating monetary incentives,” she said.