In most parts of Rajasthan, the birth of a boy is announced by loudly banging a thali – a metal plate – to announce to the entire community the joyous event. In contrast, at the time of the birth of a girl child families often hit bamboo trays (supra) to hide the birth from neighbors, an example of the way girls are often treated as shameful or worthless from birth. This kind of unequal treatment, evidenced by other practices like failure to celebrate girls’ birthdays or take them for health checkups, has devastating effects on girls’ physical and mental health.
Working with local families and community groups, Vikalp provides creative alternatives to these practices. Vikalp arranges birth celebrations to honor the mothers of daughters and the baby girls themselves. At these celebrations, family members and local widows (who are usually considered bad omens and hence not included in any celebrations), are asked to bang the thali for their daughters. In this way, Vikalp’s initiatives are changing two perceptions at one time, and re-building lost confidence within many elements of female society.
Click here to read what Oxfam Australia has to say about Vikalp’s work on celebrating the girl child, and watch a documentary about our work on Oxfam India’s website.