Fueling a Movement to End Gendercide
When the United Nations convenes on women this week, where will the church be?
Governmental leaders from around the world will meet in New York this week for the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW). This is the world’s most important gathering for policy-making on gender equality and women’s rights.
When the U.N. commission meets, they’ll focus primarily on eliminating violence against women and girls. Their two-week agenda is impressive. There will be roundtable discussions, panel presentations, and resolutions. There will be a host of side events for delegates to choose from. One, which I hope every U.N. representative attends, will be the screening of the film It’s a Girl. This sobering documentary shines a light on an epidemic of violence against women called “gendercide.”
Gendercide is the deliberate extermination of human beings specifically because of their gender. The United Nations estimates that as many as 200 million girls in the world are missing today for one reason: because they are girls.
If you have trouble envisioning what 200 million missing girls looks like, imagine every female gone in the United States. Every grandma, every mother, every aunt, every sister, every daughter, every girlfriend, plus you—gone. That’s the scope of the problem.
Gendercide occurs most commonly through sex-selective abortion. Ultrasound technology has made it easy and cheap to determine the sex of an unborn child. Although India has laws against using ultrasound to discover the baby's gender, these laws do little to sway the deeply ingrained cultural bias for boys. Added to the centuries-old tradition of son preference are government mandates, like China's one-child policy, which have accelerated the elimination of girls. Faced with the specter of a forced abortion for an “out-of-plan” pregnancy, Chinese women often resort to getting a black market ultrasound to learn the sex of their baby. If it’s a girl, they’ll abort. If it’s a boy, he’ll live.
By anyone’s count, gendercide is the worst holocaust that has ever happened—and is still happening—anywhere, at any time, in history. But it’s happening primarily in China, India, and Eastern Europe. For most Americans, this feels like someone else’s problem. We might imagine what 200 girls missing in the United States looks like, but we’re not actually missing them, so why should we care?
In the eBook War on Women, I delve into some of the reasons why we should all be concerned about gendercide, and what can be done to stop this horrific holocaust of girls. Last year, Republicans tried to get us to care by floating the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA).
We didn’t. With the far-reaching ripple effects of exterminating baby girls, not the least of which is an overall global shortage of women, our national indifference to the issue is short-sighted. Thankfully, there are people rallying to raise awareness about gendercide and finding ways to end it. People like Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, and the creators of It’s a Girl, among others.
"Our heartfelt hope and desire is that . . . It's a Girl will capture hearts around the world and will compel us all to rise up and fuel a movement to end gender-based violence and killings and restore worth and dignity to the girls and women of India, China, and of the world," said director Evan Grae Davis when the film first released.
This week, Andrew Brown, producer of It’s a Girl, will have a chance to interact with delegates at the U.N. Commission as they attend screenings of the film. “This is the highest profile event in the world on women’s rights, and we believe it will only be successful if it moves governmental leaders to take meaningful action against female gendercide globally,” he says. "We hope the screenings of It's a Girl throughout the week will help keep the focus on gendercide."
I hope It’s a Girl moves leaders to take action too. But what I really hope is that the church would be moved to action. Created in the image of God, we know where our value comes from. We don’t need to wait for a U.N. Commission to declare a theme that empowers us to spread the truth about our equality and value. We have the message (and the messenger—Christ) of hope and healing that alone can restore worth and dignity to the world. As the body of Christ, we have the power to turn this year’s U.N. theme—eliminating violence against women and girls—into a movement.
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day that has been designated since the 1900s to honor and celebrate the many achievements of women. There will be events occurring around the globe. In honor of the day—and to fuel the movement—why not join in and create an International Women’s Day event of your own? You could organize a screening of It’s a Girl at your church. Or host a Bible study on abortion to get the conversation started? Or come alongside some of the brave organizations like Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and All Girls Allowed to end forced abortions?
There is much we can do together to celebrate and honor what women have achieved globally. But what if we could someday say that our greatest achievement was working together to fix the systemic problems that lead people to think it’s okay to end baby girls’ lives in the first place? Now that would be an International Women’s Day worth celebrating.