Celebrate World Population Day: Let India's girls be born !
India must urgently tackle its ‘vanishing’ girl population as the nation awaits the birth of the world’s 7 billionth baby.
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.
Combating female foeticide
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 India's "Let Girls Be Born" initiative
Plan 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.
Promoting birth registration to ensure all children are registered
Through its global ‘Count Every Child’ work Plan has also made birth registration an integral part of its girls’ rights campaign. 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. 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.