International Women’s Day celebrated around the world, but not for all women

By March 19, 2009

India (MNN) — International
Women's Day was a global celebration of the achievements of women past, present
and future.

March 8 marked an official
holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and
Vietnam.

However, it's a mixed bag for
India. Although Pratibha Devisingh Patil is the current President of India–the
12th person and the first woman to hold the office, women elsewhere
have not been able to celebrate her freedom.

In the more-densely populated
areas, Indian women participate in all activities such as education, politics,
media, art and culture, service sectors, science and technology. 

But in isolated areas where poverty
is high, that's not the case. In fact, Kaytie Fiedler with India Partners says women and girls in India often face tough
obstacles. "One of the issues facing being a woman in India is the fact
that it can be absolutely life-threatening." 

For example, the Dowry system is
prevalent in India; it calls for a large sum of money to be paid to the groom
at the time of marriage. Brides that cannot meet the husband's expectations are
sometimes harassed after the wedding, and sometimes killed.

In most families, only the sons inherit the wealth of the
parents, as married girls are considered no longer part of the family. Widows have a grim future.
Many blame
the wife for an untimely death of her husband. Abuse is common.

Female infanticide in India is common, as daughters are considered economic
burdens because of the high cost of weddings and dowries. When a woman gives
birth to a girl baby. she often grieves over her misfortune, and she may neglect
feeding and caring for the daughter until the girl baby dies.

New prenatal sex-determination techniques, such as
ultrasound, have led to an increase in the abortion of female fetuses. Researchers estimate there
are as many as 500,000 "missing girls" each year in India due to sex-selective
abortion and infanticide.

India Partners provides hope in a
number of ways. Fiedler explains, "What we do is help them to establish
different ways of earning an income. One of our most successful is the
tailoring school. We have programs where we are sponsoring widows, giving them
a monthly income to help them. We also have medical clinics that we have set up
in villages." 

Fiedler says they are focused on
ministry. "Our goal is always to be
the hands and feet of Christ, and demonstrate our love and care; then that
gives us an opportunity to pray with the women and help them to understand the
motivation behind what we're doing."

Funds are needed to keep the
programs moving forward. If you can
help, click here.

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