Spiritual leaders to help end bias against girl child

Move to eliminate religious, socio-cultural biases

WCD ministry has brought in a provision for inclusion of local religious and spiritual leaders.

Religious and spiritual leaders will now be roped in to play a key role in ending social discrimination against the girl child and ensure their survival, protection and education under the Modi government’s flagship programme, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP).

The Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry has brought in a provision for inclusion of “local” religious and spiritual leaders in advocacy and community mobilisation initiatives to be taken across the country under the scheme, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015 at Panipat.

The district collectors or deputy commissioners, who are the nodal offers to implement BBBP programme at grassroot levels through a multi-pronged strategy, will take efforts to involve local religious and spiritual leaders in the initiatives.

The ministry officials feel that involvement of the religious and spiritual leaders will help eliminate socio-cultural and religious biases against the girl child. Last year, the district administration in Nayagarh, Odisha, conducted a campaign against child marriage at reputed temples, mathas and mandapas to sensitise the public, priests and members of the temple to stop conducting child marriages.

“The co-operation displayed by religious leaders and priests in temples, mathas and mandapas was a factor that contributed to the success of this activity,” an official said.

Programme objectives

With the ministry providing 100% financial assistance to the district collectors for implementation of various activities under the BBBP, the scheme guidelines require them to come up with innovative plans and strategy to achieve its programme objectives.

While the BBBP implementation guidelines lists a range of measures to be taken under the leadership of the district collectors to achieve the programme targets, it has laid special emphasis on implementation of multi-pronged strategy for prevention of early/child marriages.

“Prevention of early/child marriage may be done aggressively in order to highlight the importance of allowing girls to complete their school education and preferably opt for higher education/career/skill building/vocational education etc.,”  stipulates the ministry’s fresh guidelines for implementation of the BBMP programme.

It calls for taking “special efforts” for prevention of the early/ child marriage on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya organized on a massive scale in north India.

“Promotion of simple weddings may be done to protect parents from financial burden of dowry and ostentatious marriage ceremonies.
Samuhik Vivahs may be promoted too. Promotion of equal property rights for daughters and sons may be done in the community through community mobilisation initiatives,” the scheme guidelines stipulate.

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