Way forward

  • A radical shift in the approach moving from protection of girl child to promotion of women as a category is the need of the hour.
  • This is done not just by improving the image of the girl child but increasing the value of the girl child.
  • A rights-based lifecycle approach with focus on nutrition, health, education, equal entitlements in property rights, employment and income generation is the need of the day.
  • Finally, only an over-arching gender sensitization programme focusing at the individual level through education, at the institutional level, public and private, at societal level through professional behavioural campaign is the only way to not add more to the shameless inventory of ‘Missing Millions’.

To choose on the basis of gender and eliminate new life if the gender is not ‘favourable’ can easily be among humanity’s worst moments. It is time again for the government to ramp up awareness building exercises, and this time use technology to monitor every single pregnant woman right down to taluk levels until at least one year after birth. While punitive aspects might offer a measure of deterrence, true change can only be brought about by a change in attitude. As Amartya Sen argued: while at birth boys outnumber girls, ‘after conception, biology seems on the whole to favour women’. The weapon that the government needs to use now is one that will be powerful enough to eliminate the perversion of son preference from people’s minds.