A village in rural India has started a new tradition to honor girls — every time a girl is born, 111 trees are planted in celebration on the village commons! The village is located in the state of Rajasthan, a region with such a strong preference for boys that the sex ratio is now skewed to 928 women for every 1000 men. The village of Piplantri, whose tree-planting project has transformed it into a green oasis with a quarter of a million new trees planted over the past six years, is leading the way on changing attitudes on how girls are valued.
The initiative was started by the former village head, Shyam Sundar Paliwal, in memory of his daughter Kiran who died in 2007. In addition to tree-planting, the community also makes a collective investment in their girls. When a girl is born, parents sign an affidavit agreeing to educate their daughter and not to marry her until she reaches the legal age. In return, the whole community contributes to her future financial well-bring: the villagers donate 21,000 Rupees ($335) to the parents’ contribution of 10,000 Rupees ($160), all of which is deposited in a bank account that cannot be accessed until the girl turns 20 years old.
Over the six years the program has been going on, the impact on the village of 8,000 has been dramatic. In addition to making the area around the village lush and green, it has also brought economic and social benefits to the community as a whole. To help protect the trees from insects, the villagers have planted over 2.5 million Aloe vera plants around them which they now harvest sustainability to produce a variety of Aloe-based products for sale. And, most importantly, in a region with a deeply entrenched preference for boys, Piplantri is showing how honoring girls not only empowers girls and women, it uplifts entire communities.
To read more about Piplantri’s innovative program to celebrate girls in the IB Times, visit http://bit.ly/1btMGy3
For a lovely picture book about the true story of how one woman helped transform San Diego from a desert town into a garden-filled city, we highly recommend “The Tree Lady” for ages 4 to 9 at http://www.amightygirl.com/the-tree-lady
To introduce children to an inspiring role model whose work helped empower thousands of women and led to the planting of millions of trees, Africa’s first female Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, check out “Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World” for ages 4 to 8 at http://www.amightygirl.com/seeds-of-change
For an excellent book for older teens and adults that discusses how empowering girls and women transforms their communities, check out: “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” at http://www.amightygirl.com/half-the-sky
And, for stories of both real-life and fictional girls and women confronting gender discrimination around the world, visit our “Gender Discrimination” section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/social-issues/prejudice-discrimination?cat=69
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