08 July, 2015
Recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a campaign on social media. The campaign is aimed at recognizing and celebrating the lives of girls. It is part of the Indian government's ‘Save Daughter, Teach Daughter' movement, which began earlier this year.
The Indian leader used a radio broadcast last Sunday to urge people to publish photographs taken with their daughters on social media. He expressed hope that this could revolutionize the movement to save the country's girls. Within hours of his speech, thousands of people had tweeted the photos, known as selfies, with the hashtag #SelfiewithDaughter.
Sexual inequality has long been a major problem in India's highly patriarchal society. For years, Indian families have wanted boys more than girls. In India, many girls are considered inferior to boys. Some are even killed before they are born or as newborns because they are thought to be less desirable. For every 1,000 boys up to the age of six years, India has 914 girls.
It was not just fathers in India who answered Mr. Modi's call. Fathers in countries as far away as Sweden also posted pictures with daughters.
The prime minister said he got the idea for the campaign from Sunil Jaglan, a village leader in the northern state of Haryana. Haryana state has the country's worst gender inequality.
Sunil Jaglan launched a "Selfie with Daughter" competition last month. He began by posting a photo with his three and one-half year old daughter. During a recent visit to his village, Mr. Jaglan told VOA that his efforts resulted from his daughter's birth in 2012.
He says it all started when he passed out sweets to celebrate the arrival of his newborn daughter. He says his classmates and others thought at first he had a son. They could not believe that someone would give out sweets at the birth of a girl.
Sunil Jaglan wanted to express his thanks to the health care workers who helped the girl and her mother during childbirth. He says he offered the workers a nice tip as a way of saying thanks. But they refused the money, saying a girl's birth was not worth the same tip as a boy.
Mr. Jaglan is now the father of two daughters. He says he did not want them to grow up in such an environment. His efforts in the village of Bibipur have produced results: the number of girls to boys there is improving as the centuries-old customs begin to change.
Prime Minister Modi said a new hope is born by a campaign like the one in Bibipur, more so because it has begun in an area where the problem is most serious.
Mr. Modi said the government's campaign gets added strength when it is accepted by an individual, by society or by a village.
Social activists hope this campaign will not just be another public relations effort, but will support India's push to give its daughters the same positions as it sons.
I'm Marsha James.
Anjana Pasricha reported this story from New Delhi. Marsha James adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
selfie – informal n. a photograph of oneself shared on social media
patriarchal –adj. controlled by a man or men
inferior - adj. lower in quality
gender – n. sex; the state of being male or female
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