Where did those 10 million women go?

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women and reaffirm our commitment to gender equality. This past week, Poverty 180 focused on women in relation to gender-based injusticeclean water, education, and HIV/AIDS.

Female foeticide in India

There is a saying among the Telegu ethnic group of India: Rearing a daughter is like watering the neighbor’s tree.

The British medical journal The Lancet reported recently that in the past two decades, nearly 10 millionIndian girls have been aborted.

“South Asia is the only region in the world where there are more men than women,” reports Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate and economist.

Stefan Prakash Eicher, an artist and FH partner in New Delhi,
painted this diptych titled “The Disappeared.”
“These are women who should be with us today –their voices calling out
a child’s name, the creak of a chair in a college classroom,
the click of shoes down an office corridor — but they are not there,” he writes.

Why are girls valued so much less than boys in this society? 

One reason could be because in India, the dowry system requires a woman to pay a price for a husband. (And if she refuses to pay, she may be harassed, attacked or even murdered.) This places a great burden on resource-poor families because it is expected that every woman will marry…if she doesn’t marry, then she’s of even lower worth.

Another reason is that in some parts of India, by law, only sons can inherit land from their families. So if all you have are daughters, your family could essentially fade away and disappear from the landscape.

Let Her Live

In New Delhi, FH partners with Indian Christians who take God’s message of inherent human value to churches, community groups and youth. Church leaders are shown how to put their faith to work by addressing gender-based injustice and extreme poverty right in their own communities. Christian professionals meet monthly to discuss how keep improving their responses to socio-economic and political issues facing their society.

Shakuntala Patade, an artist and retired school teacher,
titled this painting “Daughters.”
“I am the proud mother of three daughters,” she says,
“awaiting the birth of three granddaughters.”

Reflection Art Gallery Also in New Delhi, FH partners with a group of artists (including those presented above) igniting conversation and pushing for change through “art that affirms life and human dignity.” Check out some of their beautiful work.