Smile Foundation in collaboration with Population Foundation of India, organised a ‘Walkathon’ to accelerate the efforts to bring pride and dignity to girl child and women. Chief Guest Magsaysay Awardee Dr. Kiran Bedi (IPS), flagged off the walkathon. Akshat Chopra, child artist and winner of National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement in Performing Arts was the special guest.
About 150 adolescent girls and boys of Smile Foundation walked from Tolstoy Marg to Jantar Mantar lane with flags and banners saying, ‘Beti bhi apni hai’.
The ‘Walkathon’ was followed by a street play and poster making by children at Jantar Mantar.
The Walkathon was organised to celebrate World Population Day 2009, under the banner of Swabhiman, the programme by Smile Foundation for health and empowerment of girl child and women.
Appreciating Smile Foundation’s effort in organising the Walkathon, Dr. Kiran Bedi said, “Such endeavours help bridge the gender gap by spreading awareness about the rights and importance of girl child and women.”
“It is sad that a daughter is considered a liability by the parents. But the reality is that even sons are often forced to leave far off from their parents because of professional or personal reasons. A daughter’s emotional bonding with her parents remains for ever. Daughters are equally capable and so we should not differentiate between a girl child and a boy,” she added.
Since 1989 when World Population Day was instituted, UN has authorised the event as a vehicle to build awareness about population issues and the impact they have on development. The walkathon was an initiative to sensitise people about gender equality and give equal opportunity to girls and women. Reproductive health and gender issues are both critical determinants of population dynamics. A woman ignorant of her reproductive rights hardly has any say in making decisions to plan a family. Hence she is forced to sacrifice her daughters before birth.
Speaking on the occasion, Child artist Akshat Chopra said, “Beti bhi apni hai. It is high time people realise the importance of a girl child or else they would be in severe loss, and I don’t think anyone would like to be at loss.”
‘Sun lo Pukar’, a street play presented by the volunteers of Swabhiman programme pulled a large audience. The group reiterated the saying, ‘Beti ko pyar do aur do adhikar’.
The event also saw the creative imagination and sensitivity of adolescent underprivileged children during the poster making. The children made marvellous paintings on issues related to girl child, thus supporting the theme of the Walkathon ‘Beti bhi apni hai’ through varied colours and ideas.