Practicing Resurrection – Planting Trees Helps Girl Survival In India

Photo by Matt Freer - used with permission

Photo by Matt Freer – used with permission

Last week I received a link to an article from my friend Steve Goode reminding me:

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

This is an issue that I have always been passionate about and I am always frustrated by how complex it is and how difficult to eradicate. The needs so overwhelming and our ability to make a difference seems so limited. I was delighted when I came across this article by Lindsay Tanne:

In Bihar, India—where the bride’s family traditionally pays a dowry—residents are planting the seeds for women’s progress.

Families in Dharhara village have started a new tradition: planting 10 trees whenever a girl is born.

But the gesture is not just symbolic—when it comes to marriage, the benefits are as sweet as the lychees and mangos that will grow.

Subhas Singh, the father of a 19-year-old daughter who is set to marry this month, describes the trees he planted as “our fixed deposits.” He explains that he sold off the fruit three years in advance to pay for his daughter’s wedding. Read the entire article

The planting of trees is not just life giving to those women whose families sell the fruit to provide for their weddings. It is also life giving for the environment.

This story reminds me of one of my heroes of the environmental movement- Wangari Maathai  who started teaching women to plant trees around their villages in Africa. Her actions started a movement that spread around the world. May the planting of these trees too start a movement that spreads and changes lives.



The World’s Women Need Our Help

I am still working on input for our upcoming ezine on “The World’s Women Need Our Help.  Though conditions have improved remarkably for many women around the world, It is discouraging to see how much still needs to change.  Thought that I might share some of my discouragement – here are some of the statistics I have gathered.  It just highlights how much we need to pray for women around the world and reach out to help them.

Though more people have been lifted out of poverty in the last 50 years than in the previous 500, 1.2 billion still subsist on less than $1 per day. Seven out of ten of the world’s hungry are women and girls World wide women grow about half the world’s food but own only 1% of the world’s property and receive only 10% of the world’s income.

Reproductive health conditions – including HIV/AIDS – are still the leading cause of death and illness in women aged 15 to 44 worldwide and the second leading cause of death and illness when both men and women of reproductive age are taken into account. An estimated 529,000 women died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth in 2000. For every woman who dies, roughly 20 more suffer serious injury or disability — between 8 million and 20 million a year. Virtually all these women were in developing countries. Up to 95% of infants will die with the first year of life without their mother.

Nearly half of those living with HIV are female, but the share of infected women and girls is growing. Of the 17 million women between age 15 and 49 living with HIV, 98% live in developing countries. Of all regions, sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the most devastated. No other region in the world approaches its HIV prevalence rates or displays such a disproportionate impact on women and girls. More than three–quarters (77 %) of all women with HIV live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Women and girls make up almost 57 % (over 13 million) of all people infected with HIV in the region. Among girls aged 15–24, the difference is even more pronounced: In the worst- affected African countries, as many as three young women live with HIV for every young man.

In India and China it is estimated that there are 60 million less women than there should be. These infants are victims of female feticide & selective malnourishment and neglect of girls.

Each year about 1 million girls worldwide will suffer female genital mutilation – a crude surgical and suturing exercise done to insure males a virgin bride. An estimated 90 million women and girls living today have suffered this procedure.

There are approximately 50 million uprooted people around the world, both refugees who have sought safety in another country as well as people displaced within their own country. Between 75-80% of them are women and children many of them fleeing their homes because of war. In U.S. wife abuse is the leading cause of injury among women of reproductive age.

Between 22% and 35% of women who visit U.S. emergency clinics are there for symptoms related to ongoing abuse.

One particularly vicious & violent form of discrimination and abuse in India and other parts of Asia is “bride burning” or dowry deaths. Dowry deaths are notoriously undercounted, estimates vary from 1200 to 15,000 a year. Often the victim is doused with kerosene and set alight and then it is claimed she died in a kitchen accident.