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Table of Contents   
EDITORIAL COMMENTARY  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 319-320
Conditional cash transfer to improve the status of the girl: Indian perspective


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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Date of Web Publication22-Jun-2017
 

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Conditional cash transfer to improve the status of the girl: Indian perspective. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:319-20

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Conditional cash transfer to improve the status of the girl: Indian perspective. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Nov 21];10:319-20. Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/2/319/188505
Dear Sir,

In the global mission to improve the health standards of people from all age-groups and to ensure universal health coverage, a wide range of targeted and innovative interventions has been planned and implemented at national and international levels.[1] Conditional cash transferprograms are one of the successful initiatives adopted in different dimensions of health and is based on the provision of a cash benefit to the targeted group of population upon compliance with a set of prerequisites.[2],[3] The rationale for offering cash incentives is to motivate people or families to adopt the desired behavior, which otherwise will not be adopted due to social or resource constraints.[1],[2],[3]

In Indian settings, from time immemorial a girl has to face different forms of discrimination at various stages of their lives primarily because of the adverse social attitude toward them, a strong preference for sons, and a widely prevalent perception according to which girls are considered as a liability.[1],[4] Owing to these practices, most of the families who have a limited availability of resources, divert their attention toward the boys in the families, and just neglect the girls and are devoid of even basic requirements.[4] In order to ensure gender equality, improve their survival, increase investment in their education or even delay the marriage age, the policy makers have initiated Dhanalakshmi scheme to target the families with girl child since the year 2008.[1],[4] However, the ultimate target isnot only to improve the condition of girls in terms of their health, well-being and survival, but also to improve the skewed child sex ratio, and even inculcate the idea in the minds of people that each girl is an asset (as by her mere existence, money comes to the family), and not a liability, and thus bring about a gradual change in the attitude and mindset of families toward daughters.[1],[4],[5]

Moreover, the scheme is quite different as it does not place any restriction on the number of daughters in the family, no eligibility criteria pertaining to family income, and offers similar incentives to each daughter irrespective of their parity.[1],[4] There is a provision of extending cash benefit to the girls' mother (preferably), on fulfilling specific conditions—birth registration, immunization, school enrolment and primary school completion, completion of middle school— and eventually offers a maturity cover of one lakh rupees, provided the girl remains unmarried till 18 years of age.[4]

A systematic analysis of the scheme has revealed quite encouraging results of the scheme, with positive impact on the parental decision toward promotion of girls' education, a will to delay the age of marriage of girls, improving the attitude of parents toward gender equality (like serving food along with sons, similar food like boys, equal property share, etc.), and parents perceiving their daughters as less of a burden.[1],[4] However, a wide range of challenges pertaining to the enrolment of the families in the scheme, no incentives to encourage secondary or other higher forms of education, questionable provision to offer the maturity amount at the age of 18 years as the availed money is being utilized for the immediate marriage of the daughters, and persistence of son's preference in a large number of settings, have definitely shown that still there is a long way to go.[1],[4],[5]

Most of the identified challenges can be managed by re-considering the timing for incentives like remodeling the clause for offering maturity amount, providing larger incentives at critical milestones (viz., upon entry to secondary school or beyond Class 12), focus incentives for encouraging higher education (such as assistance for loans or mobility or hostel fees, etc.), and offering unconventional incentives (like giving priorities in housing schemes or registration of a commercial enterprise, etc.).[4] In addition, measures like creating awareness about the scheme and its benefits across the entire nation, establishing a systematic monitoring to ensure follow-up of the girls till they are independent, utilizing the help of software for enabling the smooth enrolment management of data transfer of cash incentives, minimizing operational constraints like restricting the number of milestones for which benefit should be offered, relaxing the number of required documents for disbursing the incentives, involving Panchayati Raj functionaries in the implementation of the scheme, ensuring capacity building by training and orienting field workers for implementation of the scheme, enabling delivery of incentives in a decentralized manner, and partnering with a financial institution to ensure opening of zero-bank balance accounts or disbursement of the money, can significantly enhance the benefit of the scheme.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

To conclude, the assurance by the government for cash transfer has provided a sense of security and desire to invest in girls. This has definitely enhanced the position and value of girls and played a significant role in ensuring gender equality, nevertheless it is important to realize that one scheme alone cannot meet the needs of all the people. However, any form of investment in a girl today is a crucial measure to acknowledge their value and ensure their empowerment.

Acknowledgement

SRS contributed in the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

PSS contributed in the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

JR contributed in revising the draft, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

 
   References Top

1.
UNFPA Investing in girls: Cash incentives help promote gender equality in India; 2016. Available from: http://www.unfpa.org/news/investing-girls-cash-incentives-help-promote-gender-equality-india. [Last accessed on 2016 May 5].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Witvorapong N, Foshanji AI. The impact of a conditional cash transfer program on the utilization of non-targeted services: Evidence from Afghanistan. Soc Sci Med 2016;152:87-95.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]    
3.
Sidney K, Tolhurst R, Jehan K, Diwan V, De Costa A. 'The money is important but all women anyway go to hospital for childbirth nowadays' - a qualitative exploration of why women participate in a conditional cash transfer program to promote institutional deliveries in Madhya Pradesh, India. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2016;16:47.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
UNFPA Financial Incentives for Girls - What Works? 2015. Available from: http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/india/drive/UNFPA_PolicyBrief_07-04-20166pm.pdf. [Last accessed on 2016 May 5].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Krishnan A, Amarchand R, Byass P, Pandav C, Ng N. “No one says 'No' to money”- a mixed methods approach for evaluating conditional cash transfer schemes to improve girl children's status in Haryana, India. Int J Equity Health 2014;13:11.  Back to cited text no. 5
    

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Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvanchery Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.188505

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