Programme for girl children fails to bear fruit in Karnali ProvinceThe provincial government has launched ‘Bank Account for Daughters for Secure Life’ but many people in rural areas are unaware of the scheme.
Sukamaya BK of Chhayanath Municipality in Mugu gave birth to her fifth child, a daughter, in July last year. The ‘Bank Account for Daughters, for Secure Life’ programme initiated by the Karnali provincial government is aimed at beneficiaries such as Sukamaya’s infant daughter, but the mother seems to be unaware about the programme.
“This is the first time I am hearing about the programme. If I’d known about it before, I would have urged the local authorities to open a bank account for my daughter. It could be useful for her when she grows up,” she said.
The provincial government had launched the programme from the fiscal year 2019/20 with an objective to control child marriage and provide financial security to girls when they grow up.
According to the working guideline of the programme, parents should file an application in the local unit to open a bank account for their daughters.
“Parents should file an application with a copy of the beneficiary’s birth registration certificate within 45 days of their birth. This facility covers only two daughters in a family. However, the restriction is not applicable if a guardian is the primary caretaker of their relative’s daughters,” said Debi Subedi, an officer at the Social Development Ministry of Karnali.
But many guardians, especially from the rural areas, are unaware of the government provision which would lend financial support to their girl child.
Chhabilal Budha of Kharpunath Rural Municipality in Humla, another remote district of Karnali Province, is also unaware of the programme. The father of three daughters who were born since the launch of the programme says he has not heard about the programme.
“None of my daughters have bank accounts. I will ask the local representatives about it,” said Budha. “We are oblivious to most government plans and programmes unless the local representatives come and tell us. No one has come to us so far.”
The provincial government’s ambitious plan has failed to make an impact in rural areas where the population is vulnerable to financial difficulties and where gender bias still persists.
“The local administrations should play an important and active role to inform parents and guardians about the programme,” said Subedi. According to her, all the local bodies were asked to implement the programme by formulating working guidelines.
The programme has been implemented in all 10 districts of Karnali Province but with a dismal result.
According to the Ministry of Social Development, the bank accounts of about 13,814 girls have been opened under the programme as of now; 7,299 bank accounts were opened in the fiscal year 2019/20 and 6,228 in the fiscal year 2020/21.
“We are yet to receive data from some of the districts in the province. Among 70 local units in Karnali, 17 have not sent their data. And the programme has not taken off in nine local units of the province,” said Subedi of the Social Development Ministry. “Some rural local units in the province have also yet to implement the programme. Most of the locals in those areas are not even aware of the programme.”
The ministry allocated Rs 38.4 million for the ‘Bank Account for Daughters, for Secure Life’ Programme in the fiscal year 2019/20.
“Only Rs 26.7 million of the total budget was spent in the fiscal year 2019/20. In the last fiscal year, Rs 50.3 million was spent on opening bank accounts for daughters in the province,” said Subedi.
Soon after opening a new account under the programme, the provincial government deposits Rs 1,000 in it. The government then deposits Rs 500 in the account each month until she reaches 20 years of age. The account holder won’t receive the amount if she marries before she reaches 20 or if she discontinues her studies before completing her secondary level.
However, the deposited amount can be withdrawn before the maturity period, according to the ministry, if the account holder dies or becomes completely disabled or unable to continue studies after the deaths of her parents due to financial constraints.