Kanyashree Prakalpa is a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Scheme that concentrates on girls currently most at-risk for dropping out of school and for child marriage: adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18. The CCT component of the scheme is supported by a multipronged communication strategy addressing key stakeholders’ attitudes and practices towards female adolescents in families and communities and other key stakeholders from state to institution levels.
Conditional Cash Transfers
The scheme has two benefit components. The first is a cash benefit to be paid annually to the girls in the target age group for every year that they remain in education, provided they are unmarried at the time. The second benefit is a one-time grant to be paid to a girl between the age of 18 and 19, provided that she is enrolled in an educational institution and is unmarried at that time.
The term ‘education’ encompasses secondary, higher secondary and higher education, as well as the various vocational, technical and sports courses available for this age group. Girls must be enrolled and regularly attending educational institutions located in West Bengal that are recognized by the government.
Features of Conditional Cash Transfers
By making financial benefits conditional upon the receiver’s actions, CCT programs negotiate a behavioural change in an area of developmental concern. In this case, the behavioural areas of concern are the high incidence of child marriage and the low attendance and retention of adolescent girls in education. Kanyashree Prakalpa therefore seeks to empower girls, specifically girls from socio-economically disadvantaged families by:
> Incentivizing them to continue in education for a longer period of time, and complete secondary, higher secondary, higher education, or equivalent in technical, vocational or sports streams, thereby giving them a better footing in both the economic and social spheres.
> Disincentivising marriage till at least the age of 18, the legal age of marriage, thereby reducing the risks of early pregnancies, associated risks of maternal and child mortality, and other debilitating health conditions, including those of malnutrition.
> The Scheme lays the foundation for the financial inclusion of girls by mandating that its financial benefits are paid into bank accounts where the Kanyashree beneficiary herself is the account holder.
The Scheme recognizes that while conditional cash transfers address the immediate vulnerability of adolescent girls by keeping them in the protected environs of educational institutions, they will not necessarily change the attitudes of parents, extended families and communities towards girl children. And unless these attitudes shift, girls who complete their education will return to an environment which still largely associates their lives with the domestic domain, without allowing them to access facets of life beyond family duties, and especially not as economically productive providers for themselves and their families.
To ensure that the scheme’s conditional cash transfers go beyond a mere compliance of the PCMA 2006, the Scheme has a communication strategy based on public advocacy and behavior change communication methods designed to bring about changes in attitudes, perceptions and behavior of adolescent girls, their families and other significant stakeholders in their lives.
The Scheme’s Communication Strategy is designed to create influence on three levels:
> The cultural-environmental level where, through institutional and mass media, society at large is informed of the negative impact of child marriage, the law against child marriage, the options offered by Kanyashree Prakalpa and the objectives of the Scheme.
> Inter-personal social influence level, where families, peer groups, community and other immediate social networks that support the education of young girls with the long-term objective of their economic independence, rather than perpetuate the expectation of early marriage for them.
> Intra-Personal Influences – create a sense of self, personal capacity and well-being in adolescent girls
The impact of the Scheme is proposed to be further strengthened through Kanyashree Plus, its graduation strategy. Kanyashree Plus is being designed to ensure stronger inclusion of out-of-school adolescent girls in the Kanyashree CCT component, and facilitation of beneficiaries’ transition from secondary education into tertiary education so that they may graduate into sustainable livelihoods and employment. Under consideration are the following activities:
1. Reintegration of out-of-school girls into education through non-formal education or bridge education and livelihoods support
2. Career counseling and coaching to girls enrolled in Kanyashree starting at age 16
3. Life skills education (consisting of rights education, soft skills development, health and nutrition and financial literacy) delivered to girls
4. Facilitate each Kanyashree beneficiary’s access to tertiary education and employment/ business services, enabled by performance-based contracts with qualified providers
5. Conduct outreach and public education activities to parents, caregivers and young men to generate support of young women’s socio-economic empowerment
Launched on October 1, 2013, Kanyashree Prakalpa is applicable to the State of West Bengal only. Girls must be residents of the state, and be studying in institutions that are registered in West Bengal and recognized by the government.