Micro-level planning, customised implementation and effective IEC are key to improve the status of girls in Bihar: Vivek Kumar Singh

Investing in girls’ education, crucial for transforming the society: Nafisa Binte

Patna: Bihar Development Commissioner Vivek Kumar Singh said that to enhance the value of Girls in the state their issues need to be figured out at micro-level along with customised whereas Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, Chairperson cum MD, WCDC stressed the need for girls to be self-dependent to break the gender barriers.

Addressing day long state-level workshop “Sashakt Beti, Samriddh Bihar: Towards Enhancing the value of Girls in Bihar”, organized by Women and Child Development Corporation (WCDC) in partnership with UNICEF, Save the Children and Plan International (India Chapter) Mr Singh said here on Tuesday that for intended result, the issues of the girls should be assessed at micro-level and be addressed with customised approach. Creditable IEC materials should be developed accordingly, he said adding that feedback mechanism along with evidence-based monitoring were also very crucial in this regard. 

Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, Chairperson cum MD, WCDC said that various schemes of the state government were aimed at the elimination of gender disparity and considerable progress has been made over the years. However, the government alone cannot address all gender-related issues and therefore, all stakeholders including the community need to work together, she asserted. To ensure economic development is easier than to guarantee social transformation due to the prevalent societal rigidity. She called upon the girls to come forward and take self-decision in order to break the gender-specific barriers.    

Nafisa Binte Shafique, Chief, UNICEF Bihar said that investing in girls’ education is crucial to transform the status of girls. Men and boys need to be engaged to realize gender equality. Praising the Bicycle Yojana of the state government, she said that it has been replicated in Bangladesh – her home country. Despite several government schemes, it has been observed during our field visits that the parents are not using the grant money meant for the girl child rather being spent on other things. 

Through facts and figures, Prasanna Ash, Programme Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, UNICEF Bihar discussed about the status of girls in Bihar in his presentation.

A panel discussion on the theme Enhancing Value of Girls in Bihar: Opportunities, Challenges and Solutions was conducted wherein Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, MD, WCDC, Prem Singh Meena, Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Nafisa Binte Shafique, Anindit Roy Chowdhury, Chief Program Officer, Save the Children, Afaq Ahmad, DSP, CID (Weaker Section) Sister Sudha Verghese, Director, Nari Gunjan including the girls from the adolescent groups of Save the Children and Plan India participated. 

The girls asked specific questions relating to education, health, nutrition, protection and others.

Responding to a question on the availability of separate toilets for girls and boys, provision of sanitary pad bank in schools, Harjot Kaur said that the government has made provision of separate toilets in schools and it is an ongoing process. At the same time, we all are well aware that most of the households generally have one toilet and family members of both genders use the same facility. So, we should try to make ourselves habituated of it. Similarly, regarding sanitary pads, she urged the girls to become self-dependent and prioritise the purchasing of sanitary pads as they do for the clothes, shoes and other goods.

Intervening into the debate, Prem Singh Meena said that the government is providing several benefits to the girl children through various welfare schemes. However, lack of awareness and inadequate implementation of those schemes on the ground in some cases have been observed. The government is regularly monitoring such schemes and taking appropriated actions based on the feedback.    

Highlighting the importance of the right to vote, Padmshree Sister Sudha Verghese appealed to the adolescent girls to use their franchise judiciously so as to ensure that the public representatives honestly work for their welfare. She substantiated this point through sharing a story of some women of Mushhar – a Mahadalit community. When these women approached their Mukhiya demanding for the provision of the benefits of government schemes in their hamlet, the Mukhiya refused to do so as they didnt vote for him. 

Rafay Eajaz Hussain, State Program Manager, Save the Children welcomed the dignitaries and participants. While outlining the objectives of the workshop, he underlined the need to make the male child sensitive and empower the girl child. 

Shivendra Panddeya, Programme Manager, UNICEF Bihar conducted the ‘Pledge to Act Together to Enhance Value of Girls’.