Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked all citizens of India to come forward and empower the girl child in every possible way.
Addressing a national meeting on " Save the Girl Child" here this morning, Dr. Singh said the action must begin at home, in families and in the communities.
Dr. Singh said: "I do not say this as the Prime Minister of India. I say this as the proud father of three daughters. I wish for every girl in our country what I wish for my own daughters."
Describing the practice of female foeticide as most inhuman, uncivilized and reprehensible, Dr. Singh said: "It begins even before the girl child is born. The patriarchal mindset and preference for male children is compounded by unethical conduct on the part of some medical practitioners assisted by unscrupulous parents who illegally offer sex determination services."
Stressing the need for social awareness and strict enforcement of the Pre- Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques Act, he urged all concerned to help in putting an end to this practice adopted by misuse of otherwise life saving modern technology.
He said that every elected representative must consider it his duty to be active participant in the national campaign for saving the girl child and asked the Ministry of Health to focus on orienting the million plus elected representatives of the panchayats and urban local bodies and use them as the medium for fighting this practice.
The Prime Minister said child sex ratio statistics in the Zero to Six age group for the past four decades have been showing a continuous decline, particularly in some of the richer states like Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana and Delhi.
He said female illiteracy, obscurantist social practice like child marriage or early marriage, dowry, poor nutritional entitlements, taboos on women in public places all make the Indian women and especially the Indian girl child extremely vulnerable.
"There has to be greater focus on female literacy because the adverse sex ratio that we have today has to be challenged in the minds of our people," he said.
Describing the declining child sex ratio as a national shame, Dr. Singh said, India is living with the ignominy of an adverse gender balance.
"We are an ancient civilisation and we call ourselves a modern nation. And yet, we live with the ignominy of an adverse gender balance due to social discrimination against women," he said.
He also underlined the need for mobilising leaders of civil society, particularly the religious leaders for a nation wide campaign for ending all types of discrimination against women built into our societal structures.
He also told the Ministry of Women and Child Development that it should enlist the support of women panchayat leaders and women's Self-Help Groups to strengthen the nutrition programme in our country.
In his welcome address, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss also urged all the Members of Parliament (MPs) to take a lead role in reversing the declining sex ratio in the country, adding that the problem is more a social issue rather than a medical one.
MInister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Choudhury described the problem as a silent emergency and called for a massive campaign to empower the women.
Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Panabaka Lakshmi also addressed the meeting, which is being attended by Health Ministers of various States and the stakeholders.