The United Nations observes October 11 every year as the International Day of the Girl Child. Every year has a different theme, and this year it is ‘My voice, our equal future’ that focuses on how girls all over the world are leading the day.
This year is even more significant because it marks the launch of the ‘Generation Equality’ campaign that is a ‘multi-year, multi-partner campaign and movement for bold action on gender equality.’
On the home front, the government of India has launched several schemes over the years to empower the girl child in the areas of health, education and more. In a patriarchal society, these schemes aim to give a voice to the girl child and secure her future.
Let’s take a look at some of the important schemes for the girl child:
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana
One of the most well-known schemes introduced by the government, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana works towards empowering the girl child. Initially, the scheme was launched in January 2015 to address the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) but over the years, it has covered gender-biased sex-selective eliminations, as well as education, survival and protection of the girl child, under its ambit.
A joint initiative of three ministries - Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare, and Human Resources Development- this national campaign focuses on multi-sectoral action in select 100 districts that are low on CSR.
Through this scheme, the government aims to bring about a transformation in the mindset of people towards the girl child through training, sensitisation, raising awareness and community mobilisation, says the official website.
National Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education
This scheme aims to promote secondary education amongst girls aged 14-18. Launched in May 2008, this centrally-sponsored scheme includes a fixed deposit of Rs 3,000 in the bank accounts of eligible girls. This amount can be withdrawn once the girl turns 18 or when she clears her Class 10 exams.
Girls who belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes categories, and have passed Class Eight are eligible for this scheme. Those girls who have passed their Class Eight exam from the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas across the country are also covered under this initiative, irrespective of their caste. Girls looking to enrol in this scheme must be under 16 years, as on March 31.
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
This Deposit scheme has been launched by the government of India, as part of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana, to secure the future of girls in the country. The initiative, which encourages parents of girl children to build a fund to meet her education and marriage expenses in the future, is popular for several reasons. To begin with, it pays a quarterly interest for each financial year. It offers an interest rate of 8.5% per annum, the highest when compared to other small saving schemes. Also, it also comes with a maximum tax benefit of Rs 1.5 lakh under section 80C of the Income Tax Act. To avail this scheme, the girl child should be under the age of 10.
Mukhyamantri Rajshri Yojana
This scheme has been launched by the government of Rajasthan to curb the rising female foeticide, and provide medical care and education to girls in the state. As per the scheme, the mother of a new-born girl is given Rs 2,500 by the medical centre where she is born. After the end of the first year, once all the vaccinations are completed, another instalment of Rs 2,500 is given through a cheque.
Later, when the girl child is admitted to any public school in Grade 1, Rs 4,000 is paid to her. The amount keeps increasing as she keeps getting promoted to the higher classes. In Class 6, the amount paid is Rs 5,000, while in Class 11, it is Rs 11,000.
Balika Samriddhi Yojana
The Balika Samridhi Yojana launched in 1997 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development aims to support the birth and education of the girl child. Apart from generating awareness about the importance of the girl child, the scheme also helps to improve the retention of girls in school. It also empowers girls and motivates them to stand on their own feet, and become financially independent.
The scheme is applicable in both urban and rural districts, all over India. In rural areas, the families below the poverty line are eligible, along with families living in urban slums. Families with girl children born or after 15th August 1997 are eligible for this scheme.
CBSE Udaan Scheme for Girl Child
Udaan scheme comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The scheme aims to encourage the girl child to pursue engineering and other technical courses, and is largely focused on those who belong to economically disadvantaged sections of society.
As part of this scheme, girls are provided with free online course content through videos in Class 11 and 12. There are also virtual classes over the weekends for these girl students. Moreover, they also offer helpline services to resolve any doubts that they have, while studying the content.
(Edited by Athira Nair)