Today, October 11th, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child, “To recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”
Why do we celebrate girls?
In many cultures, daughters are not seen as being as valuable as sons. Instead, they may be considered a burden to the family or a liability. In cultures where women are not as valued as men, daughters come as a disappointment. They are a waste—not worth having at all.
“It’s a girl” can be deadly words. Too many daughters lose their lives through gender-selective abortions. When the doctor confirms that the baby in the womb is a girl, an abortion is scheduled as soon as possible so that the woman can get back to the main goal—bearing a boy child. Gender-selective abortions are illegal in most countries but still regularly practiced. For those who can’t afford the ultrasound or the abortion, a family member or midwife may kill the baby at birth. This is known as “infanticide.”
The root of this issue is a worldview that places greater value on men than women. In a Hindu worldview, when you are born as a woman, your duty is to serve your husband. If you do that well you may be born as a man in the next life. In a Muslim worldview, the woman is seen as a cause of evil. In many animistic worldviews, the men often view the women as their servants to do all the chores. Even in a Christian context women may not be seen as having equal value to men.
In some cultures the birth of a girl is an added financial burden. A family must provide a dowry for the girl to be married. Once she is married she belongs to her husband’s family. So, from birth she is not included in the family because she will not be with them after she is married. It is considered better to marry her off as soon as possible because she is someone else’s “property.” In addition, she is a risk to the honor of the family. If she is dishonored by a man, raped, or becomes pregnant before being married off, she then brings great shame to the family and may even be killed to rid the family of this disgrace.
The UN estimates that there are up to 200 million “missing women”—women who have been killed for being women (includes gender-selective abortions, infanticide, neglect of girl children, honor killings, and gender-based violence killings (rape, beatings, etc.)).
For daughters who are born it’s not all good news. In India, 71% of young females suffer malnutrition compared to 28% of males of the same age.
How can we pray for this issue?
Pray that women and girls would be seen as made in the image of God, with equal worth and value as men and boys. Pray that God would reveal his purposes of creating women. Pray that even in societies that do not recognize God in their lives, they would be confronted with the truth that girls have value.
Pray for protection of the girl child. That governments would enforce their bans of gender-selective abortions. That families and communities would find infanticide offensive and reprehensible. That law enforcement would see infanticide as murder and prosecute it as such.
Pray for the pastors and churches who have not yet understood God’s truths about the equal value of women. Pray that they become a light to the truth that God values and loves girls as much as boys.
We also ask that you please pray for our staff as they address the issues of the girl child in churches, at universities and throughout the nation, especially during the celebrations of the International Day of the Girl Child. Pray that they have wisdom in the words they speak, and that they may speak truth with boldness. Pray for them to have favor with leaders and government officials. Pray for doors to be opened so that others can hear the truth about girls.Photo provided by 10×10 Educate Girls, Change the World, © 2011