Girls Who Run the World: U’khand Makes 19-Year-Old CM for a Day

Gender

Girls Who Run the World: U’khand Makes 19-Year-Old CM for a Day

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

India celebrated National Girl Child Day by sharing pictures of their daughters on Sunday. Everyone from celebrities in entertainment to politicians and sports stars spoke about the importance of the girl child and the need for equality. While the messaging was all well and good, it was the Uttarakhand government that set an example in a unique and exemplary way.

Nineteen-year-old Shrishti Goswami was made the symbolic Chief Minister of Uttarakhand for a day, in an initiative taken by the Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Officials claim they took the cue from the Anil Kapoor-starrer Nayak, where he plays Chief Minister for a day.

Goswami resides in Haridwar district, where her father runs a grocery shop and her mother is an anganwadi worker. She was chosen to be Chief Minister for a day as she had previously been elected Chief Minister for three years in Bal Vidhan Sabha in 2018. “That was cinema…this is real. You can guess the excitement. I am thankful to CM (Trivendra Singh Rawat) and the Commission for providing me this golden opportunity,” Goswami said after her four-hour tenure.

During her review meeting, Goswami asked officials to prevent child abuse and ensure privacy of women after natural disasters at any place. She was given a detailed presentation on crime records by DIG, Law and Order, after which Goswami asked him to ensure the safety of women in public transport and prohibition on the sale of drugs in a 500-metre radius of schools. The recommendations made by her, including a request to renovate dilapidated bridges across the state will be forwarded to the government for consideration.

There can be no better way of putting your money where your mouth is, than by giving young girls the platform to speak and discuss these issues.

Usha Negi, chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said that the appointment of Goswami as CM for a day was made to  send a message of encouraging leadership capability among girls on the occasion of National Girl Child Day. “Anil Kapoor did such a role in Nayak. So we thought Uttarakhand can present it in the form of a ‘nayika’ to send a message of girl empowerment by making a child who is already CM of Bal Vidhan Sabha the CM for a day. The review meetings were aimed at developing administrative quality,” she said.

The initiative by the Uttarakhand government was a brilliant one, and something that should be replicated by more state and central offices across the country. At one level, the appointment and opportunity puts a spotlight on the issues relating to the girl child in India. And there can be no better way of putting your money where your mouth is, than by giving young girls the platform to speak and discuss these issues. While senior politicians go around making reckless statements about women, trust young girls to firmly and sensitively make their case. On another level, it also fosters a sense of participation in our democracy and encourages leadership among women from a young age. India has skewed representation in politics when it comes to gender and encouraging younger girls to be a part of the process can only be a good thing. One hopes more governments will follow the example in times to come.

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