August 10, 2017
Dola Sen makes a Special Mention on the need to follow Bengal model for empowerment of girl child
The Kanyashree scheme, brainchild of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is the State’s flagship project for the girl child. Nearly 41 lakh girls have been brought under this scheme, covering over 15,500 institutions in every corner of the state – in formal schools, madrasahs, colleges, open schools, universities, and institutes of vocational training, industrial training, and even sports institutes.
From the time of its inception, the Bengal Government has spent over Rs 3,000 crores under this scheme.The scheme was introduced to arrest the drop-out rate in schools and prevent early marriage among girl students. Recently, it won the United Nations Public Service Award in the Reaching the Poorest and Most Vulnerable through Inclusive Services and Participation in Netherlands. It received the award out of 552 projects among 63 countries.
Under the programme, a scholarship of Rs. 750 is to be paid to girls in the age group 13 to 18 years (studying in Class VIII equivalent or above) for every year that they remain in education, provided they stay unmarried. When the girl turns 18, she is given a one-time grant of Rs.25,000 for academic or job-oriented investment.
The idea is to educate and empower the girl child, and to delay marriage and childbirth, so that early pregnancy and its health burden are prevented. The scheme is end-to-end IT-enabled and completely transparent, and hence easily accessible to beneficiaries. I must also mention that under the SabujShathi scheme, we have distributed bicycles to 40 lakh students.
In a recent announcement, our Chief Minister took the revolutionary decision that girls pursuing post graduate courses in universities will also be included as beneficiaries of the Kanyashree Scheme.As a result of this decision, a few thousand university students would be benefitted under the K3 section of the scheme (K1 being for schoolgirls, and K2 for girls continuing education after high-school). Students who achieve 45 per cent marks in graduation would get a stipend of Rs 2,000 if pursuing arts, and Rs 2,500 if they pursue science subjects.
In convergence with KanyashreePrakalpa in FY 2015-16, ‘Sabala’ scheme has been able to provide Supplementary Nutrition Programme to about 1 lakhKanyashree girls during the last 2 years.Over 5,000 girls have been trained in self defence techniques so far.
Besides the UN Public Service Award mentioned earlier, Kanyashreehas previously been awarded with Manthan Award for Digital Inclusion for Development (South Asia and Asia Pacific) 2014 under the category of E-Women and Empowerment, National E-governance Award 2014–2015 awarded by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievance,Order of Merit Award, 2015 for Smart Governance,CSI-Nihilent Award for e-governance, 2014-15, and the United Nations WSIS Prize 2016 Champion in e-Government Category.
Therefore, the Centre needs to take cognizance of the good work done by Bengal Government and follow a similar model to ensure every girl child in the country finishes her education and becomes self-reliant.The over 41 lakh ‘kanyashrees’ enrolled at present are the pride of Bengal, and the protagonists of a crowning success story in the history of women’s empowerment in India.