Girl child issues highlighted in UNICEF / Prasar Bharati film awards
by Vikas Verma
Hyderabad, September 24, 2005
The fast declining sex ratio in the state (from 976 in 1991 to 961 in 2001), especially in its capital city Hyderabad (where it plunged from 963 to 942 during the 1991-2001 decade), is a major concern. Andhra Pradesh has the largest number of child labourers in the age group 5-14 years amongst all states in India. The state has the highest girl child labour population, most of them working as labourers in the embroidery, domestic and cotton seed sectors (1.66 million working children as per 1991 census). Andhra Pradesh is also the major market for trafficking of girls in India.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest Amala Akkineni, Chairperson, Blue Cross, and a former film star, said “Projecting a positive image of girls in films will strengthen the girl child.” She also noted that alternative cinema presents a hope for change and given the fact that technology has made small budget films feasible, it holds the promise of promoting social issues.
Also present at the function was another leading actress, Shriya Saran, who said “I thank my parents for giving me a chance to become a capable person. Valuing girl child is valuing yourself and humanity." She further requested the parents of today not to deny their daughters their dreams and pointed out that given a chance Indian girls can outshine the best in the world.
In the keynote address, Michel Saint-Lot, UNICEF State Representative for Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, highlighted issues faced by the girl child ranging from female foeticide, girls’ education, child trafficking, early marriage and child labour. He said that “A great country like India, which is emerging as an economic power, must do away with discrimination against girls”. He wished that India could soon end commemorating this day and start taking action to once again bring back glory to its girls.
Pleasantly surprised with the response to the event, K.S.Sarma, CEO of Prasar Bharti, noted that the concept of awarding short films and radio spots on social issues could be extended at the national level too. He further opined that radio, given its immense reach, should not be ignored in the face of the more popular television.
The programme ended with the promise to not just limit the spirit of standing up for issues faced by the girl child at such events, but to translate it into firm action at the ground level.