Conditional Cash Transfers and Promotion of Girl Children: The Indian Experience

The Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) are a marked departure from the traditional approaches in social service measures. By providing money to poor families under certain verifiable conditions, CCTs seek to address shortterm income support objectives and also promote long-term accumulation of human capital through supply of health and educational services. CCTs can be an effective way of targeting limited resources to the poor and socially disadvantaged sections which will result in better education and health care for their children. In Indian families, known for persisting gender discrimination, one main reason for the pathetic condition of the girl child is the diversion of limited funds and facilities towards the boy child. This is manifested in different levels of discrimination against girl children at every stage of their life- feticide, infanticide, little or no access to education, lack of health care and nutrition, child labour, child marriage, early motherhood, frequent pregnancy, etc. In order to reverse the distorted sex ratio at birth (SRB) and to improve the survival and welfare of girl children, governments have launched special financial incentive schemes for girls and their families. By providing CCTs, the families were encouraged to ensure certain minimum requirements such as registration of births, childhood immunization, enrollment and retention in school, and delaying age at marriage beyond 18 years.