The Art of Living today hosted the ‘Celebrate the Girl Child-Pledge’ as part of a month-long, nation-wide campaign aimed at raising awareness and inspiring commitment to protect the girl child.
The pledge taking event was marked with an evening of music and meditation where the gathering was addressed by The Art of Living Founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Ms. Manisha Mishra, Communication, Specialist, UNICEF India.
The campaign focuses on crucial aspects like female feticide, malnutrition, abuse and violence against girls, lack of access to education and child marriage. It is designed to inspire people from all backgrounds and ages to pledge their support to the girl child, especially key influencers, who can impact policy related to girls and women.
People across the country are expected to take this pledge. It is also planned to have special events in areas in the country identified as gender-critical, including Lucknow in UP, Ranchi in Jharkhand, Bongaigaon in Assam, Indore in MP, Jaipur in Rajasthan and Bangalore in Karnataka.
Throwing light on the importance and significance of the campaign, Sri Sri said: "In such a culturally and traditionally rich society today we are facing crime against women, if all of us take a pledge and volunteer to put an end to violence and discrimination against women, our life would be meaningful."
A wide section of society - schools, colleges, universities, state governments, corporate houses, NGOs and members of the community are participating in the events, demonstrating their commitment to end discrimination against, and abuse of, girls and women.
At the crux of this program is the mandate that the youth and women across the country will continue to drive the project long after the pledge and the campaign are over. “The issue will be kept alive, and change and impact will be sustained through the continued participation of the public.” adds Rugmani Prabhakar, who is leading the campaign on behalf of The Art of Living.
Manisha Mishra Communication Specialist UNICEF India, speaking on the occasion, said, "Girls are often seen as a burden. Let us all pledge to commit to treat all girls with dignity and respect; to teach our sons, brothers and nephews the value of girls".
Vandana Khurana, a participant in the pledge-taking felt, " It is about changing traditional mind sets and we are very hopeful about faith as an important influencer to bring about this change."
The Art of Living has always been in the forefront of social transformation and change, and has taken up a number of socially-significant projects over the last eight years in connection with the girl child. The organization runs over 383 free schools in 18 states covering 33,590 children where almost 50 per cent of the children are girls. Its social initiatives include programs against sex selection and female feticide, concerning which “Beti Sneha Sanjivini Yathras” were conducted in several states. In 2005, as part of the initiative against sex selection, religious and spiritual leaders of different faiths were involved in a campaign to combat the declining sex ratio. In 2009 a conference “India’s Missing Daughters: Doctors for Daughters conference” was held at Bangalore. Grassroots levels projects addressing child marriage have also been conducted.
The rising incidences of violence and crime against girls and women are causing utmost concern to all. The Art of Living’s “Celebrate the Girl Child” Pledge and Campaign are designed to convert this concern into socially-relevant action.
To take the pledge and make a difference log on to www.thegirlpledge.org