‘Arresting child sex ratio decline’ UNFPA (2009-2011).

Support to community mobilization and people driven response to in preventing sex selection and arresting child sex ratio decline

WPC  implemented a three year project Support to community mobilization and people driven response to prevent sex selection and arrest sex ratio decline’ from June, 2008 till May, 2011 in partnership with 31 NGOs from 11 states with low child sex ratio.

In consultation with the Advisory Committee, WPC’s workplan was finalized in which its role was primarily advocacy along with documentation, monitoring, evaluation and assigning timeline for activities. Apart from that the focus this year has also been to build capacities of the partner agencies to consolidate the gain made so far at the local level and ways to mainstream the issue in their existing project for sustaining the project outcomes beyond the project period.

The focus this year has been to build capacities of the partner agencies to consolidate the gain made so far at the local level and ways to mainstream the issue in their existing project for sustaining the project outcomes beyond the project period. Consultants were engaged for giving specific inputs to not so strong partners. These consultants are the experts working on this issue and key people from those partner agencies who have a considerable experience of working with the community. They assisted the respective project staff in forming project consolidation strategies and suggested ways for mainstreaming the issue in their existing programmes.

As a part of national level advocacy, WPC Executive Director was a part of the 5 member delegation, which presented a petition raising concern regarding the declining child sex-ratio and the urgent action for the effective implementation of PC&PNDT Act, to the Rajya Sabha Committee. At the state-level advocacy, WPC’s efforts have been to form a network and bring on board selected NGOs or activists which are committed to work on the issue, also that nearly each district of the state gets representation. This was an attempt to facilitate the evidence building process for advocacy. The network members would collect data from their respective districts and collate for presentation to the state.

State-level advocacy workshops were organized in 7 states out of which 2 were organized directly WPC and 5 by the lead partner of the respective states.  Additionally all the partner agencies conducted such workshops at the district level in their respective target areas which have been an interface between government, civil society, media, experts etc. Nine IPs are members of District Advisory Committee and 2 of State Supervisory Board. In one of the districts in Uttar Pradesh, the IP has formed a district level coordination committee, which has membership from all non-government sectors and that acts as a pressure group. As a result of which the meetings are being held quite regularly. State-level advocacy workshops were organized in 7 states in the project period, however a formal state level network on this issue has been formed in four states; Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttarakhand.

Through various interventions aimed at mobilizing community, partner organizations reached out to 5.5 lakh households from 1260 villages in 410 Gram Panchayats /69 blocks spread across 51 districts in 11 states. The main  focus of the partner’s work plan was community mobilization, advocacy and networking with activities aiming at building rapport with the concerned government officials and networking with media and other NGOs working in that area. The broad issues that were covered by the partners during the period were issue of sex selection and sex discrimination, its consequences, the related laws like the PCPNDT Act and what role the stakeholders can play to combat the problem.

In Rajasthan, the highlight of the community mobilization activities has been to celebrate the birth of a girl child by distributing sweets, Thali and Dhol beating, giving congratulations certificate etc. Community has been encouraged to promote girl child education, declining dowry, eliminating gender discrimination and violence against women. A positive change in mutual attitude of the youth can be observed in youth, they can be seen sitting on a common platform and discuss the issues of sex selection and dignity of girls.

In Gujarat, the focus of the programmes has been youth and Panchayati Raj Institutions. In Mehsana where YCI is operating the Gram Panchayat has become stringent in following the Birth and Death Registration Act.  The Village level task forces- formulated under NRHM have become aware and active on the issue, a case where in the issue has been streamlined with the ongoing work of the government. With Chetna’s efforts, North Gujarat University has included this issue as a core issue in the NSS program. To make it a governance issue SWATI has worked extensively with Panchayats.

As a result of advocacy by the partner NGOs from Bihar, the Government has started planning to organize workshops/trainings for its officials. Prior to the advocacy done with the functionaries, the form F were not being sent to the State office but now most of the districts are sending information on monthly basis. GENVP a partner organization has been instrumental in compiling the information sent by the districts form F is being submitted more regularly to the office of Dir (H & FW). The project staff during the visit to Bihar, met the Director (H & FW) and in-charge PCPNDT Cell, formed under State Health Society to urge upon convergence between these departments for effective implementation of the Act in the state. The names of the partner organizations from the state were shared with Incharge, PCPNDT cell for inclusion in their resource group which is likely to be formed in next year in each district.

In Delhi advocacy effort with District Advisory Committee (DAC) were initiated by the partners and the partner NGO has been attending the DAC meetings regularly as a special invitee. This has served as a good opportunity to keep a tab on what is happening at the law enforcement level in the district.

The partners from Orissa during the year have undertaken activities for sensitizing and generating awareness amongst doctors and government officials at the block and district level. Frontline health workers (ICDS and NRHM) have become more responsible and  can be seen putting in  efforts to check on demand and supply side along with the vigilant group members formed by the IPs.

In UP, one of the partners has mainstreamed the issue in its other programmes and have started targeting male youth for playing a important role in addressing the issue.

Sutra, in HP during the year got some of the private ultrasound clinics sealed and closed down, wherever the sex determination was happening.  The IP managed to get the Panchayat leaders announce in the gram sabha that pregnant women are supposed to register themselves within 12 weeks otherwise; they will not be allowed to avail the government benefits/schemes. It is also felt that the male participation in the PHC meeting has increased in comparison to previous year and the issue is being owned up by them.

With the efforts of partners in Punjab and through the advocacy workshops and meetings with Health Department, Education Department, Rural Development Department, Social Welfare Department etc, the data of sex ratio in area is being discussed. They have started involving the partners in inspecting the ultra sound centers.

The partner agencies from Haryana have been able to form strong women’s coalition group (cluster members) in the villages and wards. They also belong to Sakshar Mahila Samooh, Mahila Mandal, Self Help Group, ANM and Asha workers. These women’s groups are acting as support systems for women in the villages and wards. They can be approached anytime for intervention when required.

As a part of advocacy efforts at the state level, non-functional state supervisory board in Uttarakhand was reconstituted. All the IPs have conducted advocacy workshops in their respective districts which have been an interface between government, civil society, media, experts etc. The last of the project  had been a crucial period of the project as strategies of some of the partners were revisited for ensuring that the project is able to create ownership in the community so that the issue stays alive and is addressed, even after the NGO which triggers off the process withdraws from that area.

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