Plan celebrates the birth of a girl in Uttar Pradesh, India, as the world’s symbolic 7 billionth person. The event aims to draw attention to the serious issue of sex selection and female foeticide which is causing a widening gender gap in the country.
In a ceremony held outside Lucknow, the capital of India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the new-born girl was given a birth certificate by the local administration.
Baby 7 Billion girl was born on October 31 at 7.20am India time to 23-year-old Vinita and her husband Ajay, 25, at a community health centre. She has been named ‘Nargis’, meaning flower.
New mother Vinita said: “I am absolutely thrilled that my first born is a girl. I want my daughter to be highly educated and I would love if she became a doctor in future.”
“I am very happy that my daughter is a special baby and I will ensure that she will make something of herself when she grows up,” added Ajay.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said: “By celebrating the birth of a girl as Baby 7 Billion we are drawing attention to the serious issue of India’s declining child sex ratio.”
Hundreds of thousands of female foetuses are being terminated in India every year even though sex-selective abortions and use of ultrasound technology for foetal sex-determination are illegal in the country.
According to India’s 2011 Census, the ratio of girls to boys has dropped to an all-time low since records began. Today, there are just 914 girls for every 1,000 boys between 0 and 6 years.
“Plan has been working in India for the last three decades and the survival, protection and development rights of girls have been a key focus of our community development work. With our ‘Let Girls be Born’ campaign we are raising awareness and advocating for the fundamental survival rights of girls,” added Bhagyashri Dengle.
Plan chose Uttar Pradesh to mark the birth of Baby 7 Billion as the state accounts not only for the highest number of births but also the highest number of ‘missing girls’. With a population bigger than that of Brazil, it has just 899 girls for every 1,000 boys. The situation is similar in other states such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the country’s capital Delhi.
Baby Nargis and six more new-born girls from the same community will be sponsored by seven eminent women from India. They will support the sponsored girls for the next seven years - the key period for survival and childhood development - and serve as ambassadors for girls’ survival rights.
Arti Kirloskar, Secretary of the Plan India Board, said: “Through this small initiative we want to demonstrate that we can bring lasting change in the lives of millions of girls. Allowing girls to be born and giving them an equal chance in life is critical, and it does not cost much to ensure a quality life."