Thank you so much for the recognition: CM to Unesco
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Saturday that the West Bengal government will celebrate the achievement of the Kanyashree Prakalpa, which won the first prize in the United Nations (UN) Public Service Award for the Asia Pacific at The Hague on Friday. The date and time of the award will be decided later.
Out of 552 initiatives from 62 different countries, the Bengal government's initiative — a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at retaining girls in schools and other educational and skill development institutions and preventing early child marriage — was adjudged the best.
Meanwhile, Unesco India has congratulated the Bengal government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for getting UN Public Service Award for the Kanyashree project. In reply the chief minister tweeted: 'Thank you so much for the recognition.'
After getting the award on Friday afternoon, a visibly emotional Banerjee dedicated the award to the nation. Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said on Saturday, "It is only Mamata Banerjee who can take such a courageous step to empower women and financially support the girl child from economically challenged families to carry on with higher education. The Kanyashree Prakalpa has not only set an example in India but is unique in the whole world."
After coming to power in West Bengal in 2011, Banerjee introduced the project and named it Kanyashree. Of the various schemes under Kanyashree, the presentation of saplings to the parents of a girl child when she is born called Sabujshree has become immensely popular.
The parents are asked to look after the sapling and nurture it just as they help their daughter to grow. Once she attains the age of 18 years, the parents can fell the tree and sell the wood to help her to carry on with education. Because of Kanyashree, the number of early marriages has gone down.
A senior state government official said in the rural areas along with Kanyashree, Sabuj Sathi, the project under which cycles are given to the students of classes IX to XII in state run, aided and sponsored schools has helped the girls in remote areas to carry on with the education. "In remote areas the girls could not return home during winter before sundown and just because they were late the parents initially stopped them from going to school and then forced them to marry early. Now, they can cycle down home after the schools ended and can come back home before sundown."