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Updated: December 18, 2013 18:52 IST

She is precious

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Silver linings: Thanks to the campaign Photo: Murali Kumar K.
The Hindu Silver linings: Thanks to the campaign Photo: Murali Kumar K.

The Girl Child Pledge channelizes the power of the pledge, to build awareness and inspire commitment

When you take the Girl Child Pledge, you commit to marrying at the legal age, discourage child marriage and taking dowry and sex determination tests in your family and community. You are also committing to uphold the honour and rights of girls for education, nutrition and inheritance, to respecting women everywhere and protecting all children from all kinds of abuse.

And if the Girl Child Pledge, an initiative by the Art of Living Foundation and the UNICEF with MTV, that was recently launched in Bangalore is a success, over one million citizens of India, will have committed to do so in the month-long campaign. Incidentally, Bangalore falls short of national average in gender statistics such as female work participation.

The campaign, says its co-ordinator Rugmani Prabhakar, will address five issues faced by the girl child in the country— abuse and violence, female foeticide, child marriage, malnutrition and fair educational opportunities.

And its campaigning tool is the pledge, which can be taken individually through the website or in groups, self-initiated or through the campaign’s outreach programmes.

“The strength of the Art of Living Foundation is in mindset transformation, in influencing people to live better values,” says Rugmani. “We will take on these issues using our outreach in schools, colleges, corporates, homes and rural communities through the power of commitment.”

“When we were creating the website, the designer told us that he took a pledge in his youth, promising not to accept dowry. Then before his wedding, when he was offered a dowry of Rs 3 crore he remembered the promise and refused it. And so a pledge makes a lot of difference to certain sections of the society, like the youth or children. It makes them aware.”

Rugmani explains that a campaign like this brings up these issues higher up in people’s priorities when the time comes. “But the pledge is only the beginning. Even if it influences 20 percent to make a qualitative shift, it makes a difference.”

As the website says, those who have taken the pledge can also choose to act further, by taking home tuitions for girl children of your house-help, sponsoring children’s educational needs, conducting discussions in slums and rural areas teaching girls and mothers how to eat right or even organizing fun events for slum children or in any way that makes a difference to the lives of girl children.

One such step taken by the foundation is to organize free self-defence workshops across the city.

For details, and to take the pledge, visit thegirlpledge.org.

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