December 20, 2023
KATHMANDU – Sudha Chain, a resident of ward 4 of Kotahimai Rural Municipality in Rupandehi district, received Rs5,000 from the rural municipality office last year for registering the birth of her daughter at the ward office.
Chain gave birth to a baby girl on December 26, 2022, and got her registered at the ward office within 35 days of her birth. She received the cash allowance from the ward office on the recommendation of the rural municipality.
Kotahimai Rural Municipality initiated the ‘Girl Child Birth Encouragement Allowance Programme’ in the last fiscal year 2022-23 wherein the local unit confers Rs5,000 cash to parents to encourage the birth of a girl child.
The cash allowance was a welcome gesture for Chain who was worried about expenses for the post-birth rituals of her daughter. “We didn’t have money for the post-birth rituals. The money from the rural municipality provided us much relief,” she said. “I spent some of the money on the rituals and saved the rest to put in my daughter’s bank account later.”
Sudha now has two daughters. She says her husband, who is now in Punjab for work, had said that the birth of a second daughter would cause financial problems for the family. “When I gave birth to my first daughter, I didn’t have any money. This time the rural municipality offering money at the birth of a girl child is encouraging. It will also help change the mindset of people like my husband who think bringing a daughter into this world is a burden,” Sudha told the Post.
Shiva Chandra Pasi of Tulsipur in ward 2 of Kotahimai also received a grant of Rs5,000 last year. He said that a ward member asked him to get the birth of his daughter registered at the ward office to qualify for the allowance. “I didn’t know about the cash incentives provided by the local unit. The ward member asked me to register my daughter’s birth within 35 days and claim the amount,” said Shiva, adding that he spent the money on essentials for the newborn.
“It is good to provide such incentives. It has motivated financially struggling families like ours to give priority to our daughters’ education. I want my daughter to become a teacher when she grows up so she can teach the importance of education for girls,” said Shiva.
“The programme was launched last fiscal year with the aim of reducing gender discrimination between sons and daughters. Gender bias is still prevalent in society and we must eradicate it. Providing incentives has also helped in curbing foeticide,” said Balkrishna Tripathi, the chairman of the rural municipality. He said that he would give continuity to the programme during his tenure.
The local people, mainly from impoverished communities, are quite happy with the local unit’s programme. Kisan Kumar Pasi of Paraspur in ward 1 of Kotahimai wrote to the rural municipality office with his daughter’s birth registration certificate on December 11. “I applied for the vital registration on time and obtained her birth certificate. I have already written to the rural municipality to claim the allowance,” said Kisan, a foreign job aspirant.
A total of 20 applications seeking the encouragement allowance have been registered in the rural municipality so far in the current fiscal year. “We will soon disburse the funds to the parents of baby girls,” said Niranjan Gyawali, the account officer at the rural municipality. According to him, the rural municipality has earmarked a total of Rs800,000 for the allowance this year, compared to Rs1.5 million budgeted in the last fiscal year. He said if the amount proves insufficient, they plan to make arrangements by reallocating funds from other budget heads.
According to Tripathi, in Tarai communities, the birth of baby girls is often considered, and the local unit is working to change this perspective by raising awareness among the locals to treat the birth of a girl and a boy child with equality.
Sarita KC, social unit chief at Kotahimai Rural Municipality, feels that the girl child birth encouragement allowance programme hopes the programme will show the expected results in future. “The encouragement allowance also helps in fostering respect for women and girls. It will also ease the process for acquiring citizenship later other legal processes. The programme aims to give a clear message to the people that both sons and daughters deserve equal opportunities, benefits and respect,” said KC.