NewsSIGNIS Projects: Raising awareness of gender discrimination in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,...

SIGNIS Projects: Raising awareness of gender discrimination in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India

Every year, SIGNIS screens project applications on media training, equipment, and production for subsidy from the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith (PSPF). In 2020, we launched the online portal, successfully switching from a paper-based to a fully digital application process and making it easier for applicants from all over the world to submit their projects.

Last year, we received a proposal from the Amruthavani Communications Centre in Telangana, India, to produce a series of episodes on gender discrimination and sex-selective abortion. In this interview, Fr. Udumala Balashowry M.F.A tells us more about how the program will raise awareness of these issues, emphasizing that all girls deserve respect and dignity as children of God. 

Could you tell us more about the human impact the project will have on your community?

Fr. Udumala Balashowry: The project aims to bring awareness to the issue of inhuman treatment of girls and stop the brutal way of killing the girl child. It will allow the girl child to have equal opportunity for life and growth and bring about a cultural change in people’s mindset to realize that all children are equal. It will bridge the gap between the female and male ratio and put an end to gender elimination. The 0-6 age group ratios declined from 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001 to just 915 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011. 

How do you see the situation in your community once the project is implemented?

In addition to the impact mentioned above, change begins at home and in small ways. This project will act as a catalyst for changing people’s mindsets gradually in the context of male chauvinism.

What can you tell us about the community where the project is taking place? 

The community is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Southern India. The project is specifically geared towards bringing awareness among women and empowering them for equal rights and dignity of life. It aims to bring awareness among the rural areas in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where culturally, people think males are superior to females. The Telugu Catholic Bishops’ Council promotes the dignity of life and strives to end systematic gender elimination in India, particularly in these two states.

What are your main objectives with this project?

In addition to the above, our mains objectives are to reduce the gap between the female and male population and raise consciousness about sex-selective abortion and gender discrimination.

Are there any specific stories that you recall from these last years?

Yes. Several methods are employed to kill the newborn girls. Children are fed milk mixed with the sap from poisonous plants or pesticides, fed salt to increase their blood pressure, or are stuffed in clay pots. Sometimes, they put the husk of the paddy in the baby’s throat that slits the throat instantly, and the baby bleeds to death. Our hope is that, through our projects and raising awareness, we will contribute to putting an end to these terrible injustices and acts.

Why do you think PSPF should continue to support these types of projects?

In the last ten years, around 50 million female babies were killed due to systematic gender elimination and the cultural mindset. Media can play a crucial role in changing the mindset of people, fostering human values, and raising the social consciousness for equal rights.  


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