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Focus on girls’ rights

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 24: The state women and child development department today observed the National Girl Child Day to raise awareness and consciousness of the society towards the girl child.

Apart from ensuring that every girl is respected and valued in society, the aim of this day is also to address and reverse the trend of declining child sex ratio in the country.

“The objective is to make people aware of a girl child’s rights. It is an attempt to spread a message that every girl child should have an opportunity to develop to the best of her individual capacity in a protected environment,” said Arti Ahuja, secretary, women and child development department.

Today’s programme included a panel discussion on issues related to protection and redressal mechanisms related to a girl child. A painting competition on themes related to the girl child was also organised where children of various institutions and special schools participated.

Despite faring better in terms of female sex ratio than states such as Punjab and Haryana, Odisha has a lot to worry about.

The Census report of 2011 reveals that the number of girls (0-6 years) in the state has dropped to 934 from 953 in 2001 (as against 1000 boys of the same age group). The state has also fallen behind its neighbours such as Chhattisgarh (964), Bengal (950), Jharkhand (943) and Andhra Pradesh (943).

Though Odisha’s figures were better than the national child sex ratio of 914 — the lowest since independence — the rate of decline was faster at 1.9 per cent than India’s average of 1.4 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

Officials in the department of women and child development said they were taking a multi-pronged approach to address and reverse the trend of declining child sex ratio in the country.

“We are working on a scheme to introduce facilities for families having two girl children. However, it’s in a very nascent stage. At present, the department is examining similar schemes in other states,” said Ahuja.