India (MNN) — India’s patriarchal society creates a plethora of problems for women, especially those in lower castes like the Dalits. But a new campaign called “She Counts” could be a catalyst for change.
“Generations of women have been treated as second-class citizens,” explains Lindsay Ackerman of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India. “Not only that, they are told that they are not worth anything, they’re not worth educating, they’re not wanted, they’re a burden.
“However as Christians, we know that each one of those women was created by God.”
Mission India’s Adult Literacy Classes introduce that Truth, along with other life skills.
“Alongside learning how to read, learning how to write their own name, how to count, how to do math, they’re also learning things like how to read a map,” Ackerman explains.
For two hours a night, five nights a week, illiterate men and women meet with indigenous Mission India volunteers for a year. When they complete the course, graduates achieve a 5th grade education in reading, writing, and math.
Ackerman says, “They’re learning a lot of practical skills, and they’re also hearing about Christ for the first time.”
The Gospel message of God’s love runs against the grain of India’s culture.
“In India’s Hindu-dominated culture, gods are not loving gods,” says Ackerman. “They don’t cherish you; they are angry gods, they demand sacrifices for them to bless you.”
This message of divine antipathy toward the human race parallels India’s cultural stance toward women. “Wona” is a 30-year-old woman who participated in Mission India’s Literacy Program.
Halfway through the course, Wona shared the following testimony with a course leader: “My mother always taught me that we’re not human, that we are just like the cows or the goats. No one will treat us as humans. We cannot sit down to eat with the humans in their homes or in restaurants.
“This is what my own mother taught me, but now I know the truth. The day I entered this Literacy Class, I learned that I was a human being.”
Through the “She Counts” campaign, Ackerman says Mission India hopes to turn the tide.
“We don’t want just to impact women; we want the whole culture to understand,” she explains. “We want men to know, we want husbands to know, we want fathers to know…that the women in their lives matter.
“It’s just a completely different message for these people; it’s really a message of hope.”
With your help, hundreds of people in India can learn why women are valuable and most importantly, hear the life-changing Gospel message of salvation. Mission India is trying to raise $44,100 through “She Counts,” in order to give 1,470 people the gift of literacy.
Want to help? You can join the “She Counts” challenge here.
“Within 5 minutes you can be sharing this message with your friends and family,” says Ackerman.
A donor is doubling all gifts to the “She Counts” campaign through its conclusion on International Women’s Day. Pray that many people will join the effort to bring a new identity to India’s women.