31 October 2011: Plan is celebrating the birth of a girl in India as the world’s symbolic 7 billionth person, to highlight its campaign against female foeticide in the country.
In an event held outside Lucknow, the capital of India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the newborn, named ‘Nargis’ - a beautiful flower - was given a birth certificate by the local administration.
New mother Vinita said: “I am absolutely thrilled that my first born is a girl. I want my daughter to be highly educated and I would love if she became a doctor in future.”
Father Ajay said: “I am very happy that my daughter is a special baby and I will ensure that she will make something of herself when she grows up.”
More than half a million female foetuses are being terminated in India every year even though sex-selective abortions and use of ultrasound technology for foetal sex-determination are illegal in the country.
According to India’s 2011 Census, the ratio of girls to boys has dropped to an all time low since records began. Today, there are just 914 girls for every 1,000 boys between 0 and 6 years.
Let Girls Be Born
Plan India has launched its Let Girls Be Born campaign in 6 Indian states to galvanise action to tackle female foeticide.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Plan India Executive Director, said: “Plan has been working in India for the last 3 decades and the survival, protection and development rights of girls have been a key focus of our community development work. With Let Girls Be Born we are raising awareness and advocating for the fundamental survival rights of girls.”
In Uttar Pradesh, Plan’s partner Vatsalya is working with communities and making them understand the social consequences of the widening gender gap. Plan chose Uttar Pradesh to mark the birth of symbolic Baby 7 Billion, as the state accounts not only 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 other states such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the national capital Delhi.
As part of Plan’s initiative, Baby 7 Billion, along with 6 newborn girls from the same community will be sponsored by 7 eminent women from India – including:
- secretary of Plan India’s board Arti Kirloskar
- conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah
- sitarist Anoushka Shankar
- dancer and choreographer Mallika Sarabhai
- environmentalist Sunita Narain.
They will support the sponsored girls for the next 7 years - the key period for survival and childhood development - and serve as ambassadors for girls’ survival rights. Plan will report back on the progress of the Baby 7 Billion girls at regular intervals.