"The [Kanyashree Prakalpa] scheme is absolutely scalable because it is operated through the schools - schools are the basic unit, and administratively, it is a very, very simple scheme [of conditional cash transfers for girls]." Roshni Sen
Panel Discussion: Spotlight on Progress "Building Bright Futures for Girls through Education and Economic Opportunities"

Context: This presentation is from one of the 14 "Spotlights on Progress" video-recorded sessions from the Girl Summit 2014, London, United Kingdom (UK). The sessions were organised to share best practice between practitioners, grassroots activists, and government ministers across the issues of female genital mutilation (FGM) (also FGM/C - female genital mutilation/cutting) and child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM). Girl Summit is a project of the Department for International Development (DFID), UK.

Profile of speaker: A featured panelist of this Spotlight session was Roshni Sen, Secretary, Department of Women Development and Social Welfare and Child Development, Government of West Bengal, India, whose presentation was entitled "Kanyashree Prakalpa Cash Transfer Scheme". From the Summit introduction: "Roshni Sen joined the Administrative Service in 1993 and worked in several districts of West Bengal in the areas of women and child development, poverty alleviation, formation of women self-help groups, infrastructure development, natural calamity management, land acquisition, elections, revenue collection, law and order amongst others. At present, she is working for the development of women and children, senior citizens and the disabled. She is the key person in designing and implementing the Kanyashree Prakalpa, a Conditional Cash Transfer scheme for girls.

The Kanyashree Prakalpa scheme was launched on the 1st of October, 2013 by the Chief Minister of the state. The scheme... aims at empowering young girls by facilitating the prevention of early marriage and promoting their education. The scheme has two components: The annual scholarship of 500 Indian Rupees (INR) is designed to facilitate the completion of education amongst unmarried girls aged 13-18 years enrolled in Grades VIII-XII or equivalent. The one-time grant of INR 25,000 is meant for unmarried girls aged 18 years pursuing education, vocational or technical training courses or sports. Only girls belonging to families with an annual income of not more than INR 120,000 or those with special needs, irrespective of their family income, are eligible for these benefits. The popularity of the scheme has grown manifold since its inception due to its easy access and its specific focus on empowering young girls and building their self-esteem. In order to ensure effective governance and increase reach, the Government has commissioned a baseline survey, put in place a strong monitoring mechanism and designed a powerful communication strategy with UNICEF support. More than 2. 6 million girls have already benefited from the scheme (August 2015), and the government has raised the annual scholarship to Rs. 750."

Strategy overview: Among Ms. Sen's comments: In West Bengal, "Kanya" means girl child, "shree" means beauty and prosperity, resulting in the name "Kanyashree" for this scheme of cash transfers to low-income families to support unmarried girls to continue their education. Of the 700 million child brides in the world, 30% are in India, and, of those, 10% are in West Bengal - which also has the highest amount of trafficking of girls in India.
"The  government department  that created the programme, the Department of Women Development & Social Welfare and Child Development, decided that sufficient investment in girls' education could address the problem. Branding and marketing slogans were created. "Factors which made the scheme effective at scale included ensuring minimal bureaucracy and conditions to access the scheme, linking participation in the scheme to accessing other benefits and services from the government and ensuring a joined up approach across the relevant government departments in West Bengal." The scheme has become a movement in West Bengal because it aims to raise the self-esteem of participating girls, including through Kanyashree clubs that have peer counselling, Kanyashree fairs, and a designated Kanyashree Day. The programme gives support to girls who resist child marriage. Beneficiaries sign a pledge to promote education and work to prevent child marriage. Each girl gets an identity card, which can help her get services in various programmes, and a bangle bracelet to wear as a symbol of pride and identity.

"The scheme brings together a number of government departments and international and national organisations to work for the benefit of the girls. It is being studied through research in which UNICEF is taking part. A third party is also being identified to survey progress. And lastly, the scheme is easily scalable because it works through schools and has an easy enrolment and distribution process."

Overview of this Summit session: From the Girl Summit summary document: "The session considered the role of education, access to finance and cash transfers in empowering girls and women and providing them more voice, choice and control over their lives. The session heard from the experience of panellists on the impact of education and economic empowerment initiatives on early and child marriage. Supporting girls through education and training was an effective way of delaying the age of first marriage and motherhood and also increasing a girl’s earning power and prospects. Some initiatives were already working effectively at scale. To sustain change more needed to be done to engage with communities to address social norms to change these established cultural practices. Other complementary measures such as improving the quality of education and school safety, and supporting women leaders were also important to deliver sustainable change.""

The speakers for this session are:

Introduction: Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO.

Angeline Murimirwa, Regional Executive Director (Southern Africa), Camfed.

Roshni Sen, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, Woman and Child Development, Government of West Bengal, India.

Dr. Priya Nanda, Group Director for Reproductive Health and Economic Development, ICRW Asia.

Sally Gear, Senior Education Adviser, Department for International Development.

"The session is moderated by Joy Hutcheon Director General Country Programmes, UK Department for International Development. Joy oversees DFID’s work in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, and is the Department’s lead on the priority area of improving the lives of Women and Girls. "

Footage of this (available below) and other "Spotlights" are available on DFID’s YouTube channel.

The Girl Summit is a project of DFID. Click here and scroll down to see the full list of individuals and organisations committed to working on girls' issues, as well as a list of Girl Summit Charter signatories.


DFID Girl Summit Outcomes website and The Economic Times website, accessed on August 20 2015; and email to The Communication Initiative from Roshni Sen on August 26  and 27 2015.

See video