New Delhi: Both the low sex ratio and child sex ratio in Punjab have improved over the last decade due to to sustained civil society efforts to change the mindset, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said on Friday.
Inaugurating the One Globe Forum on digital economy, Badal said that besides government efforts, it was the work of the civil society including many NGOs like her own which had succeeded in reversing the alarming decline in sex ratio in the state which was beginning to take on apocalyptic implications.
“There is a bias in our nation in the attitudes towards women, which is reflected in dismal statistics showing that a women is molested every four minutes, raped every 12 minutes and dowry deaths take place at the rate of one every hour,” the minister said.
“Millions of lives are snuffed out at birth,” she said, in a reference to the scourge of female foeticide.
“Looking at trends from schools, colleges, we see that among those who score top marks, 70 per cent are women… Yet still we see very few women in leadership roles in industry, government, politics, for instance, because challenges are much in India,” she added.
The mindset, however, is changing, Badal said, pointing to the fair number of women present at the event.
“Rural India, above all, is changing… Women are going out into the world shedding their past diffidence and fear,” she said, speaking from her own experience of Punjab where rural mothers are encouraging daughters to go longer distances to study if their own villages lack a school.
Declaring that deep rooted cultural attitudes made the issue a difficult one, Badal said that the changing mindset was being reflected on the ground.
“The mindset has started changing. In Punjab, the sex ratio has improved in the last 10 years, although it is still among the worst and a lot needs to be done,” she said.
As per the 2011 Census, Punjab’s sex ratio had gone up to 895, from 876 in 2011, while the child sex ratio had improved to 846, from 798, over the same period.
Badal runs the non-profit Nanhi Chhaan Foundation that works to reverse the adverse gender ratio, on environment protection and to promote inter-faith harmony.
According to the foundation, it “seeks to make an impact for protecting the girl child and for preserving trees by invoking the positive power of faith”.