INDIA must urgently tackle its ‘vanishing’ girl population as the nation awaits the birth of the world’s 7 billionth baby, says child rights organisation Plan International.
Plan will mark October 31- the day when the global population is projected to pass 7 billion - by celebrating the birth of a girl in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.
According to India’s 2011 Census, there are now 7 million more boys than girls aged 0 to 6 years and the gap is growing.
The ratio of girls to boys has dropped to an all time low since records began. Today, the national figure has fallen to an alarming 914 girls for every 1,000 boys. In some states like Punjab that ratio is as low as 846 girls to 1,000 boys.
Despite the Indian Government having enacted the law against using ultrasound technology for sex-selective abortions, continued practice is believed to be resulting in more than 500,000 female foetuses being terminated every year.
Nigel Chapman, Plan International CEO said: “The continuous decline in the relative number of India’s girls is extremely concerning and needs to be halted. It fails India’s girls and risks undermining its great economic and social achievements.”
“Girls not only play a fundamental role in well-being of families and communities but can also transform a nation’s growth and prosperity. Enabling girls to access education and gain greater opportunities and life choices has been proven as one of the most effective ways to combat poverty and injustice in the world.”
Plan is advocating girls’ rights and empowerment through its global campaign ‘Because I am A Girl’. As part of its commitment, the organisation has launched the ‘Let Girls Be Born’ initiative in India to galvanise action to address the country’s disturbing sex ratio.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director of Plan India said: “We are the world’s most rapidly growing nation, yet among the most challenging for girls. Plan has been working in India for the last three decades and survival rights of girls have been a key focus of our community development work. With ‘Let Girls be Born’ we hope to reach out to people to make them realize the consequences of the declining sex ratio, and encourage them to be active in celebrating girls.”
Uttar Pradesh not only accounts for the highest number of births but also the highest number of ‘missing girls’. With a population bigger than that of Brazil, it has just 899 girls for every 1,000 boys. The situation is similar in many other states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar.
Through its global ‘Count Every Child’ work Plan has also made birth registration an integral part of its girls’ rights campaigns. The organisation will advocate with the Uttar Pradesh government to issue a birth certificate to ‘Baby 7 Billion’ at a public function on October 31.
As part of the celebrations, ‘Baby 7 Billion’ will receive a birth certificate at the October 31 event. Plan will facilitate the birth registration by liaising with the state government. The organisation has made registration of birth an integral part of its girls’ rights campaigns.
Nadya Kassam, Plan’s Global Head of Advocacy said: “A birth certificate is recognition of a valued life and is a passport to citizenship and many rights. In places like India particularly, it gives live data on the gender gap and serves as a vital indicator to track where girls are being lost.”
- Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world with programmes in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. The organisation works with more than 37,900 communities each year, covering a population of 28 million children.
- In India, Plan works in 10 states and has directly impacted lives of over a million children and their families. As a response to India’s worst child sex ratio since records began, Plan India has launched ‘Let Girls Be Born’ (LGBB) campaign and its main objective is to realise a gender balance in society by eliminating female foeticide/ infanticide and ensuring the right to identity, name and citizenship for girls.
- The ‘Because I am a Girl campaign’ (BIAAG) is Plan’s commitment to unlocking the astonishing potential of girls around the world by fighting gender inequality, securing girls’ rights and lifting millions of girls out of poverty. The campaign is dedicated to building the human capital of girls through knowledge and skills, aiming to equip, enable and engage girls of all ages to acquire the assets, skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life.
- Plan believes that birth registration is a critical first step in ensuring the rights of a child. Since the launch of its birth registration campaign in 2005, Plan has facilitated registration of over 40,000,000 people across 32 countries, most of them children. The campaign has helped to improve laws in 10 countries enabling access to registration for an additional estimated 153,000,000 people.
- According to provisional totals, the nation’s population at 1210.2 million is almost equal to the combined population of the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan put together.
- Whereas, overall, the sex ratio for the whole population has shown an improvement since 1991, the decline in child sex ratio (0-6 years) has been unabated since the 1961 Census.