Saving India's Girl Child

India ranks 127 out of 160 countries on the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index (2018). This doesn’t come as much of a surprise as discrimination against women in India begins before they are even born. It is estimated that sex-selective abortions take place every minute in the country[1]. Pre-natal sex selection is a harmful practice that reflects fundamental inequalities in the perceived social and economic value of women and girl children. It underpins the foundational social beliefs that engender violence against women in all forms and impinges on women’s bodily integrity and autonomy in making reproductive decisions. While the Indian government has criminalized this practice under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (PC-PNDT Act), it is still prevalent, considering the bleak child sex ratio of 919 as the national average (Census 2011).

This problem is especially pronounced in areas of Northern India, where patriarchal norms are deeply entrenched. In the target state of Haryana, the child sex ratio in the state fell drastically from 964 in 2001, to 834 in 2011 (Census 2011). The Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) appointed CSR as the nodal agency behind implementing the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) program in five districts of Haryana: Ambala, Kurukshetra, Gurugram, Jhajjarand Mahendragarh.

Moreover, apart from just focusing on awareness generation at the grass root level, bridging the gap between the district authorities and the community members, gender sensitization and related activities formation of Chetna Mandals (Community Watch Groups), Chetna Yatras (rallies) or Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Chaupal (NGO networking), CSR also recognizes sports as an effective way not only to build strong personalities in girls, boosting their independence and confidence but also raising the value and worth of the girl children at the family and the community level. Increasing female participation in sports challenges the notion that sports are “masculine” in nature, and the fact that there is extremely low female representation in sports in India.

Thus, we currently have two major projects under this umbrella – BetiBachaoBetiPadhao, and Sports for Empowering Girls.