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Undo sterilisation target to unleash women power

Increasing the value of the girl child

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Taking forward the 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' scheme, the Economic Survey says the government policy for women would aim to "increase the very low value that India society puts on a girl child". A nationwide campaign by the same name was launched in Haryana in January. Interestingly, Haryana also has the most skewed gender ratio in the country.

Titled 'Empowering Women: Unleashing Naari Shakti', the report highlights the irony of the Indian society, saying it is somewhat a paradox on gender issues. "India has had prominent and visible women leaders, President and prime minister, and yet, according to the UNDP's latest Human Development Report, India ranks 127 out of 152 countries on Gender Inequality Index (GII). The index is a composite measure reflecting inequality in achievement between women and men in three dimensions - reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market. Drawing attention to the declining sex ratio in the country, the Survey said the number of girls to boys at birth declined from 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001 to 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011..

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The November 2014 tragedy in Chhattisgarh in which 13 women lost their lives due to faulty sterilisation operations finds mention in the chapter. It then elaborates provision on female sterilisation, family planning and sex education. It mentioned that of the total sterilisation operations performed in 2012-13, tubectomy/laparoscopic sterilisations account for 97.4 per cent, while male vasectomy operations, considered less complicated and risky, account for only 2.5 per cent.

The report mentions family planning policies rolled out by the government only focus on contraceptives for women which leaves them with little reproductive choice or autonomy.

Earlier sterilisation campaigns have not been majorly successful in India, except the ones focusing on women's contraceptives. Sale of government-sponsored contraceptives has seen a massive jump since the 1990s, with campaigns such as 'Saheli'. "The most the government can is to undo as much by not setting targets (ELAs or expected levels of achievement), withdrawing incentives for female sterilisation and for mass camps," said the chapter.

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First Published: Sat, February 28 2015. 00:36 IST