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Pro-Life Or Pro-Women’s Rights?
Bijayalaxmi Nanda

Since 1991, Census figures have been registering a sharp decline in the child sex ratio in India. At present, it stands at an all-time low of 918 girls per 1000 boys in the 0-6 age group. This alarming trend, which is being attributed to sex determination followed by gender biased sex selection, is visible across the country and is a cause of concern for researchers, activists and policy-makers alike. Although the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, and the Medical Termination of Pregnancies Act, 1971, are the two legislations that regulate the sex determination and abortion separately, today, there is clearly a divided opinion, particularly on the issue of the strict implementation of the PCPNDT Act. The writer, who specialises in Political Theory and Gender Studies and is the founder and Campaign Coordinator of the Campaign Against Pre-birth Elimination of Females (CAPF), takes a look at the arguments from both sides to come up with a few suggestions that can help bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality.

‘Laws are not necessarily the only way to resolve the issue of daughter aversion in India. Countering patriarchy by providing education, productive employment, mobility and security need to be kept in mind.’

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 WFS Ref: OPIO318 1050 words

Busting Food Myths To Stay Fit

Search for a ‘healthy diet’ and you will get about 136,000,000 results on Google and around 24,142 papers on PubMed, a peer-reviewed medical literature. A search for ‘obesity’ will show 22,400,000 results on the search engine and 191,696 papers on PubMed. For weight loss, you will probably find 422,000,000 results on the net and roughly 95,014 papers. Clearly, at the click of a mouse one can find many tips on achieving that illusive healthy lifestyle. But how does one make sense of all the available information? In ‘Our Kid Eats Everything! Get Your Children To Eat Right Without A Fight’, health and nutrition expert Neelanjana Singh draws on her knowledge and decades of experience to create a simple nutrition guide that gives valuable insights into everything, from buying the right kind of foods to methods of storing and cooking, among other tips and recipes. In this excerpt, learn all about reading food labels properly to make informed food choices.

‘At time, the nutritional information provided to consumers is slanted so as to make it appealing. … Although one serving of granola bar contains oats, honey and raisins, it also contains more sugar than traditional glazed doughnuts!’

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 WFS Ref: INDO320 1000 words

Family Planning Lessons From Muslim Teens
Ajitha Menon

Ziratunnisa Khatun, 14, is an exceptional young woman. Apart from her studies, the one activity that she is really passionate about is going door-to-door in her Nooniya Basti, which falls under Mahingaon gram panchayat in Bihar’s Kishanganj district, talking to women about family planning, safe motherhood and the importance of eating nutritious meals. As part of her mission, she carries around with her samples of contraceptive pills, Copper T and condoms to show women how they can be used and tell them about the merits of keeping at least a five-year gap between children to ensure their health and well-being. Whereas, initially, the women used to be shocked at her “audacious” behaviour – how could an unmarried girl talk freely about sex and contraception – today, two years on, they have shed their hostility and share their concerns and questions without inhibition. Ziratunnisa is part of a group of committed girls, who belong to a conservative Shershabadi community, but have successfully managed to break the barriers of age and tradition to lead a campaign advocating for family planning.

“We spread the message that it was alright to use contraception to achieve spacing between children even if family planning per se was taboo.”

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 WFS Ref: INDO309O 1260 words

Malati Murmu’s Santali Newspaper’s A Big Hit With The Tribals
Rakhi Ghosh

Every month, Gopal Basra’s wife looks forward to her copy of ‘Fagun’, the only newspaper in the country that is published in her Santali language. Within it’s eight pages, she not only gets updates on all the latest happenings in their tribal community but she also gets to read and try out different Santali recipes shared by readers in the cookery section. Another one of her favourite columns is dedicated to women-centric poetry to which she is a regular contributor as well. Apart from being a dedicated reader herself, Basra’s wife insists that their children, too, flip through the newspaper so that they can develop an understanding of their native language and culture. For many Santali people living across the states of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, among others, ‘Fagun’ is the window to their world, one that enables them to stay connected to their unique heritage that has been overshadowed by popular culture today. The editor of the monthly, Malati Murmu, is proud of her legacy, which has a readership of 5,000 and growing.

“We are running this paper only because of the contributions and support of our readers. Publishing a newspaper needs a lot of money, which is not easy for a small homemaker from Mayurbhanj like me to gather. It’s the people who want us to survive.”

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 WFS Ref: INDO310 1120 words

Time to Step It Up for Gender Equality
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Twenty years ago, thousands of delegates had left the historic Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing on a high. The overwhelming feeling was that women had won a great victory. They had indeed – 189 world leaders had committed their countries to an extraordinary Platform for Action, with ambitious but realistic promises in key areas and a roadmap for getting there. However, looking today at the slow and patchy progress towards equality, it would seem that it had indeed been madly ambitious to expect to wipe out in 20 years a regime of gender inequality and outright oppression that had lasted, in some cases, for thousands of years. Yet, as UN Women Executive Director Mlambo-Ngcuka points out in the special opinion piece, alongside the stories of extraordinary atrocity and everyday violence lies another reality, one where “more girls are in school and more are earning qualifications than ever before; where maternal mortality is at an all-time low; where more women are in leadership positions, and where women are increasingly standing up, speaking out and demanding action”. Women will get to equality in the end. The only question is: how long should they wait?

‘What sort of world is it that condemns half its population to second-class status at best and outright slavery at worst? How much would it really cost to unlock the potential of the world’s women? And how much could have been gained!’

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 WFS Ref: OPIO309 750 words
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