As a first initiative it is laudable. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), functioning in Bihar since the past one year, has helped better conditions of public health centers (PHCs) in eight blocks of Gaya district including Barachatti, Mohanpur, Dhobi and Paraiya, conducting training workshops on reproductive health for the doctors posted at these PHCs.
“That the state government has declared the Dhobi PHC as the best-equipped PHC, is a measure of the UNFPA’s success in such sectors as gender-mapping and making women aware that their daughters are far better off if they turned mothers at a later age than they do now. That 60 percent of Bihar’s girls turn mothers before the age of 18, is an indication of how socially deep-rooted the problem of early motherhood is in the state,” said UNFPA’s state representative CK Mishra. The UNFPA, he added, will be assisting the state government is equipping delivery theaters in PHCs with ‘10 essential equipments needed for safe deliveries’.
Nand Kishore Yadav, the state’s health minister, while releasing UNFPA’s state of the world population 2009, spoke of the governmental interventions, particularly in the sphere of women empowerment, which he added, ‘had brought about a sea-change in how men now saw women’.
“We well recognize the fact of women facing the brunt of problems being brought about by climate change. Women in the state make up a large share of the agricultural workforce. They also have little or few access to income-earning opportunities. Girls give up their education mid-way because they are expected to add their families’ kitties. Realizing as much, the state government, besides making education to the high-school level free, also provides them with money for dresses and a cycle for them to reach their schools, which rarely are located close to their villages,” he said.
The minister added that Bihar’s people have a healthy tradition of respect for nature, as borne out by them watering certain species of trees. “Some six months back, the state government took a decision to provide Rs 100 to a BPL family member who planted and maintained a tree on whatever land they have. “The amount increases with the number of trees planted. I am happy to inform the gathering here that the scheme has helped many a BPL family turn into a self-sufficient family. The scheme, which we started as a pilot project, has come good and the state government would soon bring all the state’s districts under its ambit,” he said.