EDITORIAL: Saving daughters

Karnali Province deserves praise for initiating the bold step to save daughters, an idea never thought out by the Centre

Just like what the government of Province-2 did last year to protect daughters through “Save Daughters, Educate Daughters” campaign, the government of Karnali Province has also taken a bold step to protect daughters through the “Bank Account for Daughters, Lifelong Security Programme,” which came into force from Tuesday. Karnali Province is the most backward mountainous region, where life expectancy is far below the national average of around 69 years, and the condition of women there is especially harsh. Karnali Province Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi launched the programme by handing over cheques of Rs 1,000 each to four-month-old and two-month-old daughters born to two dalit women to open bank accounts in their names in Kalikot’s Khandachakra Municipality-1 and 2. Initiating the scheme, the chief minister said it was a ‘special one geared towards ensuring social justice for daughters’. Under the first tranche, the provincial government has handed over Rs 38.4 million to the local levels to open bank accounts in the names of newborn daughters. The social security programme was launched after completing the necessary procedures for opening the bank accounts for newborn daughters. It will be implemented in all the districts of the province.

According to the procedure, it will be applicable for baby girls born from the start of the current fiscal. Families wanting to join the scheme are required to apply to the concerned local levels by submitting necessary documents. It, however, will be applicable only for the first two daughters born to the same parents. In the case of girls without parents and raised by others, there is no limit about the number of girls entitled to the facility. Besides opening the bank accounts as an initial fund for newborn daughters, the provincial government will also contribute Rs 500 to their accounts every month. The local levels will release the fund into their accounts till they reach 20 years of age. The accumulated amount thus saved is expected to reach around Rs 200,000 in twenty years. The money provided by the government cannot be withdrawn until the girl attains 20 years of age.

However, there are some riders for withdrawing the money. The parents must provide up to secondary level education to their daughters, and they cannot marry till they cross 20 years of age to claim the fund. The main objectives behind launching this scheme are to bring an end to selective abortion, gender-based violence, child marriage and to encourage the parents to send their daughters to school. This will also help get rid of the old notion of the families that daughters are a social and financial liability. This programme will also help the provincial government develop its own human capital, an indigenous idea never thought out by the federal government. The impact of the scheme will be visible in society within the next couple of years. It will certainly help bring an end to the prevailing chhuapdi pratha that has disparaged the lives of menstruating women in the province. A new generation of women will come forward to do away with the age-old practice as they will become financially strong and educationally conscious. Karnali Province deserves praise for taking the bold step.

Cold wave

A cold thick fog has enveloped the eight Tarai districts of Province 2, pushing the mercury down and throwing life out of gear for the residents across the state. Schools have closed, visibility is down, people can’t go to work, and there are few people in the market place. The cold wave is actually a blanket of thick fog and smoke, and it affects everyone, young and old, students and workers. But children and the elderly tend to suffer more as they cannot take proper care of themselves. The health of the residents is of particular concern, with a sudden increase in the cases of common cold, pneumonia, diarrhoea and asthma. The best safeguard against the biting cold is to stay warm by staying indoors, wearing warm clothes or sitting around a fire.

Although a cold wave is expected in the Tarai around the middle of December and lasts for a month, it is necessary to remind the people to take all the necessary precautions to lessen its impact on their lives. In the last three years, the cold wave has claimed the lives of 46 people, mostly in the Tarai districts. With good preparation, human casualties could be avoided this time.