Nursing mothers on the premises of Bagmati Municipality’s office in Sarlahi wait for receiving nutrition allowance on Saturday. Tanka Chhetri/Republica
SARLAHI, Dec 17: Preferring son to daughter is common in Madhes. The need to offer dowry during their marriage makes parent feel that girls are burden. On the other hand, boys, when they grow up, bring dowry home along with bride.
Though the practice of dowry is a criminal offence, this has not ceased existing gender discrimination and domestic violence. Kalpana Yonjan of Bagmati Municipality-4 also used to think along the same lines. However, that changed on Friday.
In front of the office of Bagmati Municipality, she was holding Rs 5,000 in her as an allowance for giving birth to a new baby girl. Another woman, Ashakumari Mahato, standing next to her had received Rs 3,000 since she had given birth to a baby boy.
“The government gave bigger amount to me as I had a daughter,” she exclaimed.
“Daughters are given priority and their mothers are given special treatment,” she added.
The municipality office had provided the allowance to 84 nursing mothers on Friday.
According to the chief administration officer Bimal Pokharel the different amount was ‘positive discrimination’ in order to inject the idea that daughters are precious.
“In Madhes, daughters are neglected. We started this facility for women so that they understand that all are equal. The additional amount is actually aimed at raising awareness,” he said.
Sita Kumari Adhikari of the same municipality seems to have fully understood it. She is elated with the program and said that such programs indeed make them think differently.
“This is the first time we are being treated better for having a daughter,” she said. “Or else, we were used to being looked down upon as girl’s mother. If we are acknowledged this way, there will be lesser pressure to have a boy,” she added.
Indu Kumari of Dharahara meanwhile said in a light tone that she was ‘neglected’ by the administration for having a boy. “They are being told special things, being felicitated and even given more money for giving birth to daughter. We are neglected for giving birth to boys,” she said.
Pokharel stated that even better packages aimed at promoting gender equality in Madhes are in the pipeline.