You may not have realized this but today is the #DayOfTheGirl. You’re probably too busy celebrating National Coming Out Day or picking up something for your office National Sausage Pizza Day lunch – two equally relevant and valuable celebrations on this fine day.
However, today is also the day when people are asked to recognize the ongoing struggle of women and girls around the world for equality, education and basic human rights.
This is a UN-led movement with different national branches around the world. The UN site takes on the major issues facing women internationally and this year’s theme is the scourge of child marriage in cultures across the globe.
I’m not a fan of the UN but I applaud the way they’ve framed this important issue. The U.S. branch is a bit more “trendy-social justice” and that bothered me because it reflects the unrecognized luxury that American women have of getting into the weeds of an issue while the rest of the world is fighting for basic survival.
As a woman and mother of a young girl I do take very seriously the obstacles females face around the world in 2016. I’m glad there are people out there working to correct that, but it bothers me that sex-selection abortion is nowhere on the list of causes relating to women. I suppose abortion is too touchy a topic for us Westerners, so if they want us on board it must be brushed aside.
However, the issue of women’s rights (particularly internationally) cannot be divorced from the issue of life. Only in America and her western counterparts do we have the pleasure of worrying about things like maternity leave and bathroom designations. For most women on earth, they have to fight even to be born.
Sex-selection abortion is an assault on our gender. It is practically a genocide. The Population Research Institute dug up some sickening numbers on the issue.
There are naturally more boy births than female births. The natural ratio of boys to girls at birth is 105 boys for every 100 girls born. In other words, 51% of all births result in male babies. This might seem like an insignificant difference, but it matters a lot. There have been 1.9 billion births since the year 2000, and even a tiny percentage of this is a significant number.
Based on this natural ratio, there should have been 47 million more boys than girls born since 2000. Instead, because of sex-selective abortions, there were 71 million more boys than girls born. This means that there were 24 million (the difference between 71 million and 47 million) sex-selective abortions since the year 2000.
These numbers don’t even include the girl babies who are neglected or murdered outright after their births. In many countries girls are often the least likely to receive basic healthcare and nourishment. As a result they die at a higher rate than boys in the same peer group.
In China alone 37 million girls have simply disappeared from the population. This “gendercide” is having a terrifying impact on the lives of average Chinese citizens.
If we are to claim we stand on the side of girls and women, we must first recognize that even before they have the chance to be denied education, freedom and respect many of them are being denied birth. We cannot demand that underdeveloped nations nurturing socially stunted cultures flip the script and respect the inherent value of women if we don’t begin with the importance of those women being born in the first place.
Respect for a life starts in the womb.
There are some great things happening in respect to this movement. Educational opportunities are being brought to areas in places like the Middle East where girls once didn’t even dare to dream about learning. In Malawi the movement is engaged in significantly dropping the rates of child marriage.
Across Africa #DayofTheGirl groups distribute sustainable sanitary kits to girls and women who are otherwise forced into seclusion and miss school and work whenever they are menstruating. A simple cloth sanitary pad that can be washed and reused might mean the difference between graduating school and becoming a child-bride for some women.
I applaud all these efforts, but I am deeply disappointed in the movement – particularly in America -for not allowing the issue of sex-selective abortion to be a part of a platform that aims at the empowerment of women.
Girls in the womb are voiceless. Someone must speak for them.
Every single human right begins with the right to life.
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