Gender inequality has been a social issue in India for centuries. That in many parts of India, the birth of a girl child is not welcomed is a known fact. It is a known fact too, that discrimination starts from even before the girl child is born and sometimes she is killed as a foetus, and if she manages to see the light of day, she is killed as an infant, which makes up the highly skewed child sex ratio where for every 1000 boys in India, there are only 908 girls. In such a scenario, it is but obvious that for myriad reasons, many girls across the country are forced to drop out of school.

Patriarchal norms have marked women as inferior to men. A girl child is considered a burden and is often not even allowed to see the light of the world. It is hard to imagine this state of affairs in the 21st Century when women have proved to be strong leaders in every field possible. From wrestling to business, the world has been revolutionised by exceptional women leaders in fields that were until recently completely dominated by men.

But in spite of such progress, even today, the girl child is discriminated against in most Indian households. The birth of a baby boy is celebrated with great pomp and ardour, but the birth of a girl child is received with dismay. The practice of female foeticide through sex selective abortion continues to be practiced in spite of the Prenatal Diagnostic Technique Act of 1994. In India the child sex ratio is at the lowest it has ever been with just 914 girls for every 1000 boys (Census, 2011).

And this discrimination continues in every aspect. Be it education, health, protection or participation, the girl child is always treated unequally. Indian society still hasn’t been awakened to the importance of empowering the women. The statistics still narrate a grim story of female foeticide, girl child discrimination and gender bias .

• While 62% of the male children receive full immunization, among girls it is 60% of them receiving so (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, 2012)

• Girls in India have 61% higher mortality than boys at age 1-4 years (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)

• 56% adolescent girls (15-19 years) in India are anaemic, as against 30% adolescent boys (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)

• School dropout rate amongst adolescent girls in India is as high as 63.5% (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation – MoSPI, 2012)

• Nearly 45% girls In India get married before the age of eighteen years (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)

The need of the hour is to make a change in the mindset of the society and destroy the prejudices that damage the future of the girl child. What is required is a concerted effort to sensitise the society in eradicating this issue of gender inequality. It is high time that every child is treated equally and given every opportunity required to grow to his/her full potential.

CRY aims to create a world where the girl child is celebrated for what she is – where she has access to equal opportunities to study, to grow and to prosper as her male counterpart. A world where the birth of a girl child is celebrated with equal pomp and festivity as that of a boy child.

CRY’s efforts to bring about a change in this situation include:

• Education that helps create attitudinal shifts towards gender bias and activities to spread awareness

• Continuous efforts towards breaking myths and stereotypes around gender

• Ensuring State accountability to implement various schemes, policies, laws, constitutional guarantees and international commitments

• Institutionalising gender sensitive processes within various systems such as law and programmes

• Encouraging community ownership in preventing violations based on gender discrimination

Donate now and help all children in CRY supported projects to become entitled to equal rights.