I have only one request.

I do not ask for money

Although I have need of it,

I do not ask for meat . . .

I have only one request,

And all I ask is

That you remove

The road block

From my path.

- Song of an African Woman

When US citizen Sunita Williams literally reached for the stars, Indians back home were ecstatic, for Sunita is of Indian origin! Like her, many Indian women are reaching heights only dreamt of earlier. Take, for instance, civil rights activists, Aruna Roy and Medha Patkar, writers like Mahashweta Devi or Arundhati Roy; and Naina Lal Kidwai, vice-chairperson and managing director of HSBC Securities and Capital markets, featured in Fortune magazine’s list of the 50 most powerful women in international business.

While it is heartening to know that the 21st century has provided the no-stops mode for the educated, middle class Indian girl to mature into a woman, who builds her own dreams and excels in various fields, there is a vast majority, who by accident of being born underprivileged has been left out in the cold. For them there are many ifs and buts and hurdles to be crossed.
The first is …

...birth
The probability that she is not allowed to be born is 7%. If her parents were resident of Fatehgarh Sahib, a small town in Punjab, her chances of being victim of foeticide would be one in four cases (24%).

…then survival
If she were lucky enough to be born, her probability of dying before her first birthday is 7.1%. And she has a one in 10 chances of not being around for her 5th birthday.

If she survives…
There is one in two chances (48.9%) that she is underweight

Will she develop?
After all this, if she survives, she has one in four chances (24%) of not being enrolled in primary school. She is likely to be doomed to an illiterate world.

And her continuous development is subject to certain alarming trends…
- Trends on reported rape cases indicate that there is now a 20% greater probability of her being physically abused than the last year.
- There is 27% greater probability of maternal mortality now, as compared to the last decade.
The reasons for girl children and women being subjugated and discriminated so, are many, with patriarchal values that consider the girl child a liability at the core of the issue. Not to mention the lack of political will to implement existing laws, policies and programmes

What is urgently required in society today is a change of attitude. And doesn’t society begin with each one of us?

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