Chouhan launches programme to celebrate birth of girls, empower them

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New Delhi, Oct 7 (UNI) Moved by the discrimination faced by women, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has launched schemes to provide them support from birth to death and help their empowerment by inclusion in decision-making, police and government jobs.

''I come from a background where people expressed unhappiness over the birth of 'Murho' (girl) and they were considered burden, not sent to schools so there was no question of their getting into jobs.

Even the sex ratio was low at 917 girls for every 1000 boys,'' Mr Chouhan said ''All these things used to pain me, so when I took over two and a half years back I decided to do something to reduce the pain and grief from the faces of our mothers/sisters/ daughters by launching specific programmes for them,'' Mr Chouhan said while interacting with UNI team at the news agency headquarters.

Realising that dowry was the major reason for daughters not getting equal treatment quickly, the chief minister launched a 'Ladli Lakshmi Scheme,' under which on the birth of every girl child Rs one lakh was given which was to be utilised at the time of their marriage.

Besides, girls are given money for going to schools and the amount is fixed depending on the standard they are studying in and books and bicycles. Their birthdays are celebrated at Anganwadis and on reaching the age of 21 years, they get Rs 1.18 lakh which could be utilised for their marriage.

The government celebrates the 'godbharai' ritual for poor women to encourage them to take proper care during pregnancy as the state has very high rate of maternal and infant mortality.

Pregnant women are covered under the Janani Suraksha Yojna which was aimed at promoting institutional delivery and protecting health of mother and child.

A 'Durgawati Battalion' exclusively of female police persons has been raised while in other jobs also women are given fifty per cent reservation, he informed.

However, participation in decision-making was the key to political empowerment so fifty seats in Panchayats and local bodies have been reserved for the fair sex which is bringing change at the grassroot level with women coming out of veil. Besides, gender budgeting has been started in all the state government programmes and schemes, he said.

About the funding for all the 25 programmes meant for females, he said that provision for them were made in the budget itself so that these schemes not remain on paper but help the people in their daily lives.

Asserting that once the decision to empower women was made, resources constraint no longer existed as the state had a lot of natural resources. Mr chouhan claimed the impact of these women-specific programmes was clearly visible during his 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra'as women came out in large numbers and made their voice heard which is gradually changing the mindset of general population towards fair sex.

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