» Posts tagged: ‘girl child


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15 Oct 2013

download (1)The 2011 issue of Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, an independent peer-reviewed online journal, is themed ‘becoming-girl’ and contains a number of thought-provoking articles about the ‘target’ of so many development interventions: ‘the girl child’.

‘The girl child’ has become increasingly visible in the development landscape. For several years now, PLAN International has been running the ‘Because I’m a Girl‘ global campaign, and since 2007 it has published an annual ‘State of the World’s Girl’s’ report (the latest, 2013, report is HERE). Furthermore, some days ago (11th October, 2013) the second United Nations’ ‘International Day of the Girl Child‘ was pronounced, following a resolution (Resolution 66/170) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011.

To be sure, this focus on ‘the girl child’, is not just about girls. Instead, ‘the girl child’ is framed as a highly productive development site yielding a whole range of development bonuses.  According to Resolution 66/170:

Recognizing that empowerment of and investment in girls, which are critical for economic growth, the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals, including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, as well as the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes and the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community,

And a similar line of reasoning transpires from the 2013 State of the World’s Girls report (p9)

Girls are both uniquely vulnerable and uniquely powerful. They may lack the most basic skills to cope with a crisis, like the ability to swim, or even run, or to get the information they need and to express their opinions. They can be forced into making poor and ill-informed decisions that affect them for the rest of their lives, like early marriage or transactional sex. Girls also have the power to transform not only their own lives, but also those of their families and communities. If they stay in school and understand how to protect their rights and choose what to do with their bodies, they earn more, they marry later, they have healthier children and become leaders, entrepreneurs and advocates.

Despite all this attention, some core, underpinning questions about ‘the girl child’ typically remain unaddressed (or rather: unpronounced). This is where Monica Swindle’s article ‘Feeling Girl, Girling Feeling‘ makes an interesting read. Starting  with a conversation with a five year old girl triggered by the question ‘what is a girl’, she discusses three constituting elements to this seemingly straight-forward, yet deeply complex question: ‘what are girls’, ‘what is girl culture’, and ‘what is girl’.

Of particular interest from a development studies perspective is Marjaana Jauhola’s article entitled ”The Girl Child of Today in the Woman of Tomorrow’: Fantasizing the adolescent girl as the future hope in post-tsunami reconstruction efforts in Aceh, Indonesia‘. In this article, she analyses the Oxfam International’s mini radio drama ‘Women can do it too!’ that was broadcasted in 2006-07 in local radio stations in areas affected by the 2004 tsunami in Aceh. She approaches this radio drama as ‘technology of the aid-and-development-planning governmentality’, marking the ‘normative conceptualisation of time and space’ that underpins the radio drama and which is also characteristic of many other ‘girl child’ development interventions. She elaborates:

…normative time appears also as the normalised rhythm of daily life, and the life cycle. The radio drama establishes several normative narratives of the rhythm of adolescent girls’ lives: attending school; preparing for the national examinations; finishing school first and only then getting married; having two children. Ultimately, adolescent girls are seen as future mothers who have an employment outside of home (Muhammad 2002, 3).’

Such development interventions, Jauhola notes, thus, effectively project children into a heteronormative future, based on the assumption that childhood is essentially heterosexually determined and implicitly increases “the pressure on producing the proper ending of the story” (Bruhm and Hurley 2004, xiv). Nonetheless, such gender advocacies are seldom fully stable and fully closed and are often also sites of ‘constant negotiation of norms’, which Jauhola brings forth through her subversive reading of the radio drama.

posted by Roy Huijsmans



A declining Child Sex Ratio constitutes a violation of the fundamental rights of girl-children.

This includes the right to survival, protection, development and participation of children, all key principles of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child to which India is a signatory. Social pressure on women and couples for producing sons combined with easy access to technology for sex-detection has created a market for sex-selection, at times further stimulated by medical professionals.

Commitment is key to improving child sex ratio. And this is deliberately deviated by State parties, Society, Community and Family as well. Presently, the all-India child sex ratio is 914:1000 (girls:boys), a sorry state of affairs, and in need of immediate intervention. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is now planning to develop a national plan to combat the draconian disease- the attitude against girl child. It is interesting to note that some States in India are far ahead in implementing schemes to address girl child issues. Some of the State initiatives are given below:

KARNATAKA: Bhagyalakshmi Scheme :  To promote the birth of girl children among families identified as below poverty line and to raise the status of girl child thereby raising the status of the society, Karnataka has implemented financial assistance through Bhagyalakshmi scheme for girl children born in the BPL families from 2006-07 subject to fulfilling certain conditions.

ANDHRA PRADESH: Indiramma Amrutha Hastham (IAH) scheme, a boon to pregnant women has been launched. It focuses on 20 key interventions and its monitoring.

DADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI, SILVASSA: Save the Girl Child scheme, a child protection scheme is under implementation and money is deposited on the girl child’s name, under Profit Plus Policy of Life Insurance Corporation for 18 years and on maturity the beneficiary would receive amount of Rs.3.00 lacks.

save the girl

DAMAN AND DIU: Dikri Development Scheme (DDS) : To save the girl child and increase sex ratio, this scheme was implemented for domicile of UT of Daman. It is proposed to be accelerated & propagated in the community. Incentives to Girl students for pursuing professional courses at graduate & post graduate degrees. Cash incentives are provided to parents of tribal girl students. Cash award to meritious SC/ST Girl Students in Education. Cycles have been distributed to girls.

GUJARAT: The Mukhbir Yojana, which was launched in January to intensify the fight against female foeticide, has now started paying dividends. Decoy/ Sting Operations is carried out in the State. And mandatory quarterly reporting is monitored with regard to transactions.

RAJASTHAN: Rajasthan State Policy for the Girl Child, 2013 is an unique and first time effort and in operation in the state.  The Policy envisions “The girl child shall have an enabling environment for her survival, growth, development, protection, empowerment and participation, for exercising her right to life with dignity and without discrimination.”

ASSAM: Majoni scheme is launched for girl child. Reinforcement of PC-PNDT (Pre conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Technique) act in the State. Initiatives undertaken to Improve birth registration: this will facilitate to estimate the sex ratio at birth: a critical indicator to monitor progress. sessions of the Gram Sabha were also held to discuss and develop plans to address the declining CSR.

NAGALAND: ARSH program is under implementation in the state to reduce malnutrition and anemia of girl child & women, and address gender discrimination in access to health care services. Top priority is given to the health of mother and child through the RCH programme.

SIKKIM: Mukhya Mantri Sishu Suraksha Yojana Avam Sutkeri Sahayoj Yojana for the pregnant women is launched. Equal property rights for daughters along with sons have also been enforced in the State. In order to improve the service delivery by the ASHA, Sikkim has become the first state in the country to give a monthly honorarium of Rs. 3,000/- besides the usual incentives entitled to them.

BIHAR: Mukhya Mantri Kanya Suraksha Yojana. It is also promoting Support Based Schemes in Education like Mukhyamantri Balika Poshak Yojana, Mukhyamantri Paribhraman Yojana, Mukhyamantri Balika Protsahan Yojana, Hunar Scheme, Meena Manch, Sabla etc. To prevent social evils Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojna to improve child sex ratio is promoted.

HARYANA: Jhajjar is the first district to implement Active tracker across India. Active Tracker has been developed. As part of this initiative, login ids were provided to all sonography centers in the district and it was mandated that they register online. All centers were required to fill “Form A” in online. Simultaneously individual logins are provided to district authorities so that concerned authorities can view reports on their personalized dashboards. www.merigudia.com is launched.

PUNJAB: Bebe Nanki Laadli Beti Kalyan as proposed under 13th Finance Commission is under implementation.. The main objective of the scheme is to curb female feticide and to provide better education to girls. Along with this, financial assistance under Dhanalakshmi will be provided to the families from time to time so that they are not burdened with the birth of the girl child.

Guest contribution by Manorama Dei. Manorama Dei is an ISS Alumni from India (MA Governance & Democracy 2007/2008, with an optional course in Children and Youth Studies). She is currently working as Senior Research Officer at the National Mission for Empowerment  Women,  Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India where she works on holistic empowerment of women, especially from the marginalized groups and sections of Indian society. http://www.nmew.gov.in/

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