What’s in a nameplate? A lot, if it has a daughter’s name in addition to or instead of her parents’ names on it.
A number of residents in Mandsaur district, about 375 km north-west of state capital Bhopal, have put their daughters’ names on the nameplates on their houses in a bid to empower girls psychologically and give them an identity of their own.
The symbolic gesture comes in the area where the child sex ratio has dipped from 946 in 2001 Census to 927 per thousand in 2011 whereas the all-India figure is 940 per thousand. It started with a drive launched by the women and child development department on January 24, which is celebrated as the National Girl Child Day.
Girls say they are thrilled to see their names placed prominently in their homes.
Bhuvaneshwari Kumari Rekwar, who won state-wide admiration after she refused to get married when she was 17, said it will help girls feel stronger. Rekwar, who lives with her grandparents in Sanjit Naka area, also got her own nameplate.
“This will empower women as they will feel they have a stake in the house and it is also a message for those who still want to suppress women,” the 20-year-old said.
Ten-year-old Khushi Joshi is very happy that her father, BC Joshi who works in the narcotics department, has placed her name on top of his nameplate. “I feel very proud when I see my name at my house in Bhagwat Nagar. I am thrilled,” Khushi said.
For 12-year-old Chaitali Neema, it was a birthday gift from her father Sanjay Neema. The nameplate also has the name of her sister Aditi.
“It was a surprise gift and this is possibly the best gift I have ever received in my life. Both of us now feel added ownership of our home,” a visibly elated Chaitali said.
Officials said many families are warming up to the drive.
“The results have been encouraging and over 100 families across Mandsaur city have placed their daughter’s names on the nameplates,” district child protection officer Raghvendra Sharma said.
Thousands of girls are killed every day in India, which was ranked 130 of 155 countries on the UNDP’s gender inequality index in 2015, worse than countries including Cambodia and Zimbabwe, on parameters such as infant mortality and education. Daughters are often viewed as a burden because of the dowry system.