National Girl Child Day - Glories of Girls Cited in Vedas
Every year India celebrates National Girl Child Day on January 24. In 2008, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, decided to celebrate this day to offer support and opportunities to the girl child in India.
"The Vedas also place substantial emphasis on girl child, particularly the education of girls. The Vedic literature not only encourages girls to be scholarly, but also expresses that it is the duty of every parent to ensure that their daughter is brought up and educated with great effort and care. Rig Veda says, parents should gift their daughters intellectuality and power of knowledge when she leaves for the husband's home. The Atharva Veda particularly advocates for female empowerment, claiming that women are an integral aspect of the society," says Dr. Payal Kanodia, Trustee of M3M Foundation which is dedicatedly working to improve the lives of the children of labourers, particularly girl child.
"This country has seen many powerful women since history. There are many classic examples like Rani Lakshmi Bai popularly known as the 'Jhansi Ki Rani' - who is remembered for her valour during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, and Razia Sultan - who was the first woman Sultanate of India and ruled the court of Delhi from the end of 1236 to 1240. Going by current century, Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi - the first Indian female physician, Kalpana Chawla - the first Indian woman who reached space, Kiran Bedi - who became the first woman IPS Officer in India, Justice M. Fathima Beevi - the first female judge appointed to the Supreme Court of India, Mary Kom - the only woman boxer who won a medal in each of the six World Championships, Bachendri Pal - the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Harita Kaur Deol - who became the first woman pilot to fly solo in the Indian Air Force, are some of the many examples of women power. Who can ignore the achievements of women like Indra Nooyi, former Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, and Gita Gopinath, first Indian woman to be appointed as the Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)," continues Dr. Payal Kanodia.
India has not scored well in the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 published by the World Economic Forum, where India has been placed at 140 out of 156 countries with a score of 0.625 (out of 1), although India's female population has outnumbered male population as per 5th National Family Health Survey Report 2019-21 (NFHSR-5). India now has 1,020 females per 1,000 males as per NFHSR-5.
"Indian government has been consistent in its approach through focus on nutrition, health and education programs. 'Chalo Padhayen Kuch Kar Dikhayen', 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao', 'Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna', and many other schemes for adolescent girls have been testimonies of what India has achieved today. The status of having 1,020 females per 1,000 males is not something that the world can ignore, knowing that India is the second largest in terms of population. India has become a gender sensitive country and since the past many years has developed a sense of responsibility and commitment towards the girl child. A strong mother gives birth to a stronger daughter and now she is also raising a much stronger citizen. The mindset in villages and smaller towns has changed and is changing rapidly to balance the society," says Dr. Payal Kanodia.
Dr. Payal Kanodia also advocates for education and awareness by social bodies as one of the key factors for the change in sex ratio.
"Consistent education and awareness at the deep rural level has played a key role. The credit goes to Government at the Centre and State level, but also to all the Foundations, NGOs and individuals who have been working tirelessly for years together to sensitize masses not just at rural level but also in semi-urban and urban areas. Well informed women make a significant difference in society, and it has been proved time and again. We still have a larger responsibility to make sure that the young women from the deep rural areas too occupy significant positions in the corporate world.
"History has enough evidence to prove that the birth of a girl brings prosperity and good fortune. Girls are accepted as Lakshmi in India. It is also true that the social and economic empowerment of girls can bring many more exemplary achievements. We need to treat girls as equals in all sections of society, be it at work or their own homes," Dr. Payal Kanodia said.