A tiny step to set the gender equation right

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: It is a tiny step to set the gender equation right that might otherwise get lost in the bigger picture. Addressing boys -- a variable that usually is left out in the empowerment picture -- a group of students working in a resettlement colony in Rohini are doing their bit to strike the right balance.

From getting the boys to be sensitive to this issue to making them put together a wall magazine that tackles the issue of gender imbalance, the organisation hopes to be able to make boys realise the magnitude of the problem. With many more girls going missing before there are born, though the population of the country rose by about 21 per cent between 1991 and 200, the child sex ratios plummeted rapidly. But most people are yet to wake up to the seriousness of the issue.

Working with the youth to change age-old attitudes, Snehavandam Society, a voluntary organisation, has decided to tackle the alarming problem of sex-selective abortions by trying to make a difference in the way people think.

"The media has drawn a lot of attention to the declining sex-ratio in South-West Delhi. But we were convinced that the practice of sex-selective abortions would be rampant in the urban villages in Delhi especially those that are close to Haryana. There has been no attempt to target these people. Our preliminary survey in Sector 24 of Rohini showed that there were 183 girls for 250 boys, so we knew we were on the right track,'' said Hemlata Kansonia attending a national consultation on sex-selection organised by Forum for Creche and Child Care Services (FORCES) and "We Can'' in the Capital.

While they met the usual opposition at first that sex-selection is not a practice followed in the colony, their survey helped them to convince the youth that the adults in their colony were not immune to the `temptation' to eliminate girls.

"There was a youth group involved with religious activities that got interested in the campaign. They were all boys and had earlier been unruly elements who used to spend their time teasing girls. But once they got involved they have managed to even stop an under-aged girl from getting married in their area. It is just a small effort that seems to have paid off,'' she said.

A small `effort', may be, the experiment has paved the way for men in the area to at least see the women's side of the picture. "This is an area that is basically so conservative that the girls don't speak to the boys. After we started working here, they can at least come out of their homes. If we want to change attitudes we have start talking to boys. If they become more positive about the issue, then they will be able to put up a fight against their families,'' she remarked.

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