According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’ s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India. In most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males.
In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population. The accepted reason for such a disparity is the practice of female infanticide in India, prompted by the existence of a dowry system, which requires the family to pay out a great deal of money when a female child is married. For a poor family, the birth of a girl child can signal the beginning of financial ruin and extreme hardship.
“A tradition of infanticide and abandonment, especially of females, existed in China before the foundation of the People’s Republic in 1949,” note Zeng et al. (“Causes and Implications,” p. 294.) According to Ansley J. Coale and Judith Banister, “A missionary (and naturalist) observer in [China in] the late nineteenth century interviewed 40 women over age 50 who reported having borne 183 sons and 175 daughters, of whom 126 sons but only 53 daughters survived to age 10; by their account, the women had destroyed 78 of their daughters.” (Coale and Banister, “Five Decades of Missing Females in China,” Demography, 31: 3 [August 1994], p. 472.)
Empowering the girl child through education is an indispensable tool to curb the growing menace of gender inequality, declining sex ratio, and discriminatory treatment given to women in India. Empowered woman is strong enough to stand as a support for her family and community at large. She further contributes to the prospects of next generation.
The project Shakti is an initiative by Anandmurti Gurumaa, against female infanticide and the brutalities afflicted on the girl child. Shakti – An initiative to empower the girl child, is the voice of truth against this crude reality.
Project Shakti is an initiative whose aim is to educate the world on infanticide. Virtually unheard of in many parts of the world, the phenomenon of female infanticide is as old as many cultures, and has likely accounted for millions of gender-selective deaths throughout history. In all cases, specifically female infanticide reflects the low status accorded to women in most parts of the world; it is arguably the most brutal and destructive manifestation of the anti-female bias that pervades “patriarchal” societies. It is closely linked to the phenomena of sex-selective abortion, which targets female fetuses almost exclusively. There are records of older girls being fed dry, unshelled rice that punctured their windpipes, or were forced to swallow poisonous powders. Others were smothered with a wet towel, strangled, or allowed to starve to death.”
By bringing light to this crime against humanity and educating the world on “truths” and not beliefs, Gurumaa believes we can usher in a new era of empowerment. Looking beyond creed, color, beliefs, or caste systems, the Shakti program will deliver the education and support needed to bring change to a world where murder called by another name becomes acceptable.
Shakti works to provide financial support to the daughters of widows, handicapped parents, war veterans, and many others to complete their basic education – changing the old beliefs and showing the world that girls with support can contribute to her family, community, and generations to come.