Multi-ministerial convergence, skilling of girls, increasing enrollment of girls at secondary level in schools, raising awareness about menstrual hygiene, and promulgating elimination of child marriages are among the new features added to the Centre’s flagship ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative on Tuesday.

The revised scheme was launched on the occasion of the ‘International Girl Child Day’ by the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry. Speaking at the event, WCD secretary Indevar Pandey said the government will also focus on removing barriers that stop girls from pursuing diverse livelihood opportunities.

“Some of the new aims we have for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao programme are 1% increment in enrolment at secondary level and skilling of girls and women every year, raising awareness about safe menstrual hygiene, and promulgating elimination of child marriages,” he said.

Pandey said that the scheme has now expanded from tri-ministerial convergence to multi-ministerial convergence. “Until now we had convergence with only the ministry of education and ministry of health and family welfare. Now we are expanding it further to the ministries of skill and development, youth affairs and sports, and minority affairs, among others. We are taking everyone together to focus on the development of the girl child and avoid duplication of government efforts,” the secretary said.

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The WCD ministry also launched an operational manual to implement the scheme in districts. “The scheme, which was earlier operational in 405 districts, is now being expanded to cover all the districts of the country through multi sectoral interventions,” the manual stated.

The scheme was launched in 2015 to address the issue of decline in child sex ratio (CSR) in the country, along with empowerment-related issues for girls and women.

“The manual has an activity calendar that has been streamlined to aid the districts to implement the scheme in a sustained and inclusive manner throughout the year… We will also focus on removing the barriers that stop girls from pursuing diverse livelihoods. We will also try to form a system that will enable girls to be exactly who they want to be in future,” Pandey said.

“Systematic career counselling will be provided to girls to plan their future and avoid early marriage,” he added.

Emphasising on the convergence between various Ministries, Union WCD minister Smiriti Irani said, “It will help empower girls with quality education and equal opportunities. The country cannot progress if girls and women are not empowered. The government has always encouraged and empowered girls to pursue vocations of their choice irrespective of gender stereotypes.”

The WCD ministry also signed an MoU with the skill development and minority affairs ministries.

By Shadab

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