Sonali Khan of Breakthrough talks about skewed sex ratio

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | March 11, 2015


#sonali khan breakthrough   #sonali khan interview   #sonali khan work on female child   #girl child  


‘Mission Hazaar’ aims at taking the gender ratio to 1,000 girls for every 1,000 boys. At present, there are only 914 girls for every 1,000 boys in India, but it is much lower in states like Haryana. As part of the campaign, a survey was conducted among young people from schools and colleges in four districts of Haryana by an international human rights organisation, Breakthrough, which works towards removing the practice of gender-biased sex selection (GBSS), prevalent in many parts of the country. It is engaging common people on the skewed sex ratio issue to end gender-based discrimination.

In an interview with Jasleen Kaur, Sonali Khan, vice-president and country director, Breakthrough, talks about the mission and changes it has brought about, as also its roadmap.
Excerpts:

What is Mission Hazaar all about?

When we started working we were largely focusing on domestic violence. Over the years we identified other areas, and one of these was the issue of the skewed sex ratio, which is a very critical problem. And one of the states which is really affected by this is Haryana.

Through one of the baseline researches we tried to find out the reasons for this problem. It is deeply related to the patriarchal mindset that undermines a girl’s status in the community, doesn’t give girls due regard and instead has a high preference for the male child.

As part of Mission Hazaar we have floated questions to 10,000 children of senior school and youth in colleges. We asked them if they really found the girls missing. They were asked what they see in their families, in schools and colleges, in public spaces. The data that has emerged is thought provoking and disturbing as well. Most girls and boys say there are more boys in their families and in every generation.

It shows how they are seeing women’s position ... gender bias that is there. It is a very powerful data because this data is of the young people themselves experiencing gender-biased sex selection. 

Do they really see this as gender bias and a social problem?

It is not that they are not aware of the problem of missing girls. But they really do not connect it with gender inequity and low position of women in society. Through our campaign we are making efforts to draw people’s attention to the fact that this issue of sex selection is deeply connected with gender bias. If the community does not respect and value women then one of the outcomes is in the form of the skewed sex ratio. Young people are noticing missing girls. But they do not relate it to discrimination. They don’t link these things to gender bias. We have to make them understand that this is not normal.

We are working on a school-based intervention and through 150 government schools we are reaching to 18,000 children, in partnership with the state department of education. Through gender sensitisation at a very early age we are trying to give them an alternative perspective.

You have focussed on four districts in Haryana which are largely urban.

We need to understand that the problem of gender bias is not only a rural problem. In fact, research shows that some of the worst hit areas are the ones with most prosperous families. Sonipat and Panipat are more industrial and the ratio is fairly skewed there as well. But Jhajjar is one of the worst hit.

What kind of campaigning is done and what are the visible changes?

It is very early to talk about the big changes in terms of statistics. But there has been a positive response. Through training and capacity building we are working with frontline health workers and also with ASHAs  (accredited social health activists) and aanganwadi workers. We are engaging them to spread the word.

The first big change is the acknowledgement of inequity, and there has been a big shift, a lot of young people are now talking about it. The acknowledgement and acceptance of the problem is the immediate change that we are seeing.

There has been a tradition in Haryana of naming their daughters  as Antim, Bhateri, etc. which are demeaning. Now we hear stories of celebration of birth of daughters. Ultimately, it is the people who have to change. Our whole approach has been to involve the community so that it becomes their mission.

The government of India has also launched the ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ campaign. We are leveraging that opportunity to spread the message. It is important to sustain this effort so that change really happens. And we know it is not going to happen overnight.

Our whole campaign is to look at the value of women and if they are missing how it is impacting the life of society. Also, it is not just more number of girls being born but also how they are treated in the sense of access to nutrition, education and healthcare.

jasleen@governancenow.com

(The interview appeared in March 1-15, 2015, issue)

Comments

 

Other News

Modi inaugurates India’s longest bridge in Assam

  Prime minister Narendra Modi celebrated three-year of his government on May 26 by inaugurating Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Tinsukia district. It is the longest bridge in India, which runs 9.15 km from end to end and connects Assam with Arunachal Pradesh.

IndianOil registers highest ever profit of Rs 19,106 crore

 IndianOil posted a net profit of Rs 19,106 crore for 2016-17 fiscal as compared to a profit of Rs 11,242 crore in the last fiscal. The income from operations for the financial year 2016-17 was Rs 4,45,373 crore as compared to Rs 4,06,828 crore in the previous fiscal. IndianOil`s income from

Maiden flight of HAL’s light utility helicopter

 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) carried out first flight of light utility helicopter (LUH)-PT-2 on May 22 at its Bengaluru-based facility. The flight duration was about 22 minutes and pilots reported nil snag, HAL said.   “These maiden flights of indig

The rise and rise of muscular nationalism

 Narendra Modi is like Greek mythology’s King Midas: whatever he touches turns into gold. Most people in this country are left dazzled by his ability to make dramatic announcements with a statuesque flourish.   The past three years of the Modi government have left the

BHEL unveils 270 MW thermal unit in Maharashtra

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has added another feather to its cap by successfully commissioning another 270 MW thermal unit at RattanIndia Nasik Power Limited’s 5x270 MW thermal power project at Sinnar (Nasik) in Maharashtra.   This is the fourth unit to be c

India is second largest stainless steel producer in the world: steel minister

Chaudhary Birender Singh, minister for steel, said that the Indian steel industry is at the cusp of a significant milestone by becoming the second largest stainless steel producer in the world, leaving behind Japan. He said that the steel sector is only an example of all-round development in India. The c



Video

सुषमा ने किया देश की बेटी का स्वागत

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter