Baby 7 Billion: Countdown Begins for a Girl in India

Oct 25, 2011, 12:54 ET from Plan International

NEW DELHI, Oct. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The countdown has begun for the birth of 'Baby 7 Billion' in India, says global child rights organisation Plan International.

On October 31, the day when the world population is projected to surpass seven billion, Plan will celebrate the birth of a girl near Lucknow, the capital of India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Plan International is using the occasion to draw the world's attention to India's growing gender gap. The world's emerging economic superpower, estimated to overtake China to become the most populous nation by 2030, has seven million girls "missing" from its population.

Hundreds of thousands of female fetuses are being terminated in India every year even though sex-selective abortions and use of ultrasound technology for gender determination are illegal in the country.

According to India's 2011 Census, the ratio of girls to boys has dropped to an all-time low since recording began. Today, the national figure has fallen to an alarming 914 girls for every 1,000 boys between 0 and 6 years. In some states like Punjab, that ratio is as low as 846 girls to 1,000 boys.

Nigel Chapman, Plan International CEO said: "Girls throughout the world are still being denied their rightful access to many things – but this is the most grave of all – the right to be born itself. Globally, millions of girls are either never born because of a skewed preference for sons or die in early childhood or in reproductive years. We must bring a stop to this injustice."

Plan is advocating girls' rights and empowerment through its global campaign 'Because I am a Girl'. As part of its commitment, the organisation has launched the 'Let Girls Be Born' initiative in India to galvanise action to address the issue of female foeticide.

Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director of Plan India said: "We are the world's most rapidly growing nation, yet among the most challenging for girls. Plan has been working in India for the last three decades and survival rights of girls have been a key focus of our community development work. With 'Let Girls Be Born' we hope to reach out to people to make them realise the consequences of the declining sex ratio, and encourage them to be active in celebrating girls."

Plan chose Uttar Pradesh to mark the birth of Baby 7 Billion as the state accounts not only for the highest number of births but also the highest number of "missing girls." With a population bigger than that of Brazil, it has just 899 girls for every 1,000 boys. The situation is similar in other states such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and country's capital Delhi.

On October 31, Plan will celebrate the birth of 'Baby 7 Billion' at a public function near Lucknow. The newborn will be issued with a birth certificate by state authorities. The organisation has made registration of birth an integral part of its girls' rights campaigns.

Nadya Kassam, Plan's Global Head of Advocacy said: "A birth certificate is recognition of a valued life and is a passport to citizenship and many rights. In places like India particularly, it gives live data on the gender gap and serves as a vital indicator to track where girls are being lost."

Editor's Notes:

  • Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world with programmes in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. The organisation works with more than 58,000 communities, covering a population of 56 million children.
  • In India, Plan works in 10 states and has directly impacted lives of more than one million children and their families. As a response to India's worst child sex ratio since records began, Plan India has launched 'Let Girls Be Born' (LGBB) campaign and its main objective is to realise a gender balance in society by eliminating female feticide/infanticide and ensuring the right to identity, name and citizenship for girls.
  • The 'Because I am a Girl campaign' (BIAAG) is Plan's commitment to unlocking the astonishing potential of girls around the world by fighting gender inequality, securing girls' rights and lifting millions of girls out of poverty. The campaign is dedicated to building the human capital of girls through knowledge and skills, aiming to equip, enable and engage girls of all ages to acquire the assets, skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life.
  • Plan believes that birth registration is a critical first step in ensuring the rights of a child. Since the launch of its birth registration campaign in 2005, Plan has facilitated registration of over 40,000,000 people across 32 countries, most of them children. The campaign has helped to improve laws in 10 countries enabling access to registration for an additional estimated 153,000,000 people.
  • According to provisional Census totals, India's population at 1210.2 million is almost equal to the combined population of the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan.
  • World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development says globally, "missing" girls at birth and excess female mortality after birth account for an estimated 3.9 million women each year in low-and middle-income countries. Almost one million of these excess deaths are in India.

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SOURCE Plan International