Every Giving Tuesday, we highlight a story from the field – a story of transformation…a story of a girl’s life that has been changed.
When she was born, her father abandoned her family because he did not want a girl… he wanted a son.
Bhavani and her mother were left alone. Bhavani’s mother blamed her. When Bhavani was just three years old, her mother forced her to work in the cotton fields, every day, underneath the sweltering sun, to help pay for her own food. When she got sunburned, her arms and little face felt like fire, although they were often covered with her tears. She never had the chance to go to preschool. She never played like other little girls around the world and often experienced her mother’s verbal and emotional wrath, just because she is a girl.
Eventually, Bhavani became numb.
People in the small village where Bhavani lived knew that her father abandoned her. A neighbor had also witnessed her mother’s abuse. This neighbor knew of IGP’s work in the nearby areas. They had seen that IGP helped little girls just like Bhavani. They alerted IGP of Bhavani’s case.
IGP social workers immediately found Bhavani’s mother and started investigating. Finding three-year-old Bhavani abused, malnourished, and working as a child-laborer, our social workers rescued her.
Now, she is living in our partner’s safe home and is thriving.
She is loved like a child should be, is being taught her inherent value, and is in school (pre-kindergarten) now for the first time!
IGP rescued Bhavani over a year ago. Our social workers counsel and care for her and all our other rescued girls, an important part of our aftercare program. Over the course of this year, Bhavani is beginning to learn to trust adults after years of neglect and abuse.
We teach each one of our rescued girls her inherent worth, in spite of what she may have ever experienced or have been told. We want to give them all hope and a future, so that they will stop female gendercide in their families and in their culture.
At IGP, we CELEBRATE the lives of girls. Because of the work of IGP, Bhavani (who we have been highlighting all day) has HOPE!
This year Bhavani celebrated her birthday for the FIRST TIME EVER!
All of IGP partners have special birthday celebrations for all our rescued girls. This year, an IGP team was in India for Bhavani’s birthday celebration.
“I felt completely humbled to witness this. If given the option, I would never, ever miss either of my children’s birthdays. I can’t begin to wrap my head around consciously choosing not to celebrate their lives. This simple celebration for us means the world to our rescued girls.”
-Samantha Anderson (IGP Director) shared about her experience on the trip.
Bhavani’s life as a little 4-year-old is now full of friends, school, and continual care. As it should be. Bhavani SMILES often and rarely cries anymore. She knows she is valued and that no boy is more important than she.
This is IGP’s transformation. We save girls’ lives to end female gendercide in India. But, we don’t stop there. We teach each one of our rescued girls that her life is valued. We give them all hope and a future, through counseling, care, and an education. This year alone, we are sending 36 girls to college–girls who were once rescued and now have brilliant futures. We want them to be the change makers in India. And through them, we believe India will begin to value its daughters.
August 18, 2016
Today is Daughter’s Day in India. Indians are demanding social change. The BBC News article by Geeta Pandey on August 11, reads as follows:
India has launched a campaign on social media to celebrate daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters this week and is observing a Daughter’s Day on Thursday.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi told the BBC that the Daughters’ Day and the Daughters’ Week were aimed at reducing female foeticide, improving India’s skewed sex ratio and educating girls.
A preference for sons has led to hundreds of thousands of female foetuses being aborted every year, at least 22 women are killed for dowry every day, a rape is reported every 22 minutes and every five minutes a woman is assaulted within her home.
Over the years, India has brought in tougher laws banning sex selective abortions, dowry has long been outlawed, there are civil remedies available to women trapped in abusive marriages and rape laws have been rewritten to include the death penalty.
Of course, there are more positive stories about Indian women – today there are many powerful women politicians, scientists, in leading banks – both private and government, and in the corporate sector.
But patriarchal attitudes are deeply entrenched in Indian society continue.
Mrs Gandhi explains why her campaign singles out daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters:
-Daughters because people think “she’s a burden, she’s inferior to a son, she’s a bad investment since she will marry and leave for her bridal home”.
-Daughters-in-law because “we are killing them the most” and “we are trying to tell people to treat their daughters-in-law as they would treat their own daughters”.
-Granddaughter because “in most cases, it’s the mother-in-law who forces her daughter-in-law to abort her female foetus and we are appealing to the grandmothers to let the girl child a chance to be born”.
The government, she says, is working hard to better the lot of the women and the girl child.
In January last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (save daughter, educate daughter) programme (BBBP) to address the issue of the skewed child sex ratio. In his monthly radio address last year, Mr Modi asked fathers across the country to click selfies with their daughters and send them to him, borrowing an idea from a villager in Haryana.
Mrs Gandhi’s Daughters’ Day campaign is another attempt to chip away at the patriarchy and to cajole more people to begin valuing their daughters.
More than half of all Indian women including pregnant and nursing mothers are anemic. In fact, 59% of pregnant women and 63% of nursing mothers suffer from anemia increasing their risk of miscarriage, infant anemia and low birth weight. Anemia is not the only health problem stemming from poor health and nutrition of Indian mothers. A lack of iodine can lead to miscarriage or infant brain damage. The 2014 State of the World’s Mothers Report found that mother and infant mortality is highest during labor, birth and the first week of life. Improper nutrition places women and their babies at risk of death during a time that should be a celebration of life.
For many women, this situation is compounded by societal pressures and gender bias. Health experts in Bhopal, India reported that most families will not volunteer to donate blood to a women. Bhopal’s largest blood bank is also limited, because for every 10 bags of blood donated, only three (3) are for women. This means that during labor and delivery, women who are already anemic or who hemorrhage may not have any replacement for blood lost. Many women have trouble even having access to treatment. A recent survey of over 30,000 married, Indian women reported that 81% of them needed permission from their husbands just to go to a health care center.
Through our partners, IGP is turning these forms of gender bias into opportunity. We are providing pre-natal vitamins, ante-natal vitamins, food and supplements for women who are pregnant or nursing. We are providing this support to women in their own homes. Social workers check on the health and safety of pregnant and nursing mothers as well as female infants. Providing these resources gives our partners the opportunity to educate women on health, nutrition, hygiene and safety. But more importantly, it gives us the chance to educate women on the value of girls as infants, children and adults. The social workers encourage mothers of female infants to keep and value their little girls.
Sources:Times of India, WSJ India, Save The Children, UNICEF
You Can Provide The Gift of Life to Mothers and Babies
- $33 Can Provide a Baby with Life Saving Vitamins and Supplements for Six (6) Months
- $35 Can Pay a Social Worker for a Whole Week to Educate, Give Emotional Support and Health Visits to Mothers and Children in Need
- $56 Can Provide Pregnant Mothers in Our Partner’s Program with Critical Pre-Natal Vitamins for One (1) Month
- $150 Can Provide the Salary for An Entire Month of Support, Monitoring, Nutrition, and All Other Services Our Social Workers Provide
To give one of these life saving gifts through our Girls2Women Project, simply follow the instructions to donate on our website.