How Can We Raise Strong Daughters? 10 Suggestions….


As a feminist activist and director of The 50 Million Missing Campaign to end female genocide in India, one of the questions I’m often asked in interviews is “How do we raise strong daughters?”

I have to admit, that there’s a part of me that is always uncomfortable with this question being asked in context of violence on girls and women.  Because what I feel it does, is that in a round-about-way it puts the onus or blame of gender-based violence on the victim.  It’s almost like saying, the reason girls and women get battered and/or killed is because they are weak.  And if they weren’t they wouldn’t.  Sexist and misogynist violence effects even the strongest of women, simply because the system (social, religious, legal etc.) permits it. In fact determinedly perpetuates it.  Victims of violence, be it race, religion or gender based violence, are NOT inherently weak, but are weakened by constant social battering.

So I believe the process of raising strong daughters is to off-set the very social and cultural conditioning and values that are meant to rob us of our strengths and potentials as individuals.  These are ideas and values that many of us, even those opposed to sexist societies, imbibe and perpetuate unconsciously.  Below I talk about 10 such things that we, as mothers, fathers, teachers, and guardians need to be mindful of, in how girls are raised in society, so we don’t rob them of their inherent strengths and potentials.  So that we consciously provide our daughters with an environment where they can realize and proudly assume their powers in full.  And are able to let “their strong woman within” shine through.

1.Teach her to know her Self by listening to her inner voice, instincts, thoughts and inclinations.

2. Teach her to be comfortable with what’s different in her even when it is at odds with what society says she should be.

3. Teach her that she is exceptional in her own way, and that you are going to be by her side as she discovers, explores and expresses her individual identity.

4. Teach her that choices she makes come with responsibilities that she must also assume. But that they also come with the freedom to make a new choice if she finds her first choice to be wrong.

5. Teach her that she has the right to be wrong, and that’s the path of discovery and growth.

6. Teach her that if she believes in herself, and her dreams and goals, she does not need the approval of the whole world.

7. Teach her that she will face harshness in this society, and she will face rejection, and that it does not matter as long as she believes in who she is and what she is doing.

8. Teach her to value experiences and work that allow her to be herself.

9. Teach her to value people who love her for who she is not what she does or has.

10. Teach her to celebrate each time she takes a stand against social or cultural pressure to conform and stands true to what she knows and believes in, even if at the end of the day, she won’t get a public award or standing ovation for it.

My #Video Response to 10 Questions on #India’s #Gendercide of #Women

As founder of The 50 Million Missing Campaign to end female gendercide in India, I was recently sent a list of e-interview questions from college students in Delhi. I respond to these questions in the video below.  The 10 questions I answer are also listed below the video embed.  The video is a bit long (40 minutes) but these are very frequently asked questions and they are important to this issue.  So please watch, and if you have additional questions, do put them in the comment box below. For a shorter 15 min. edited version of the video below CLICK HERE

To watch a video that I presented to the UN in which I explain how more than 50 million women have been exterminated from India click here.

  1. Can female gendercide ever end given how entrenched it is in Indian culture and religion?
  2. Why do parents not give up baby girls for adoption instead of killing them?
  3. What’s the use advocating for the rights of the girl child when we cannot even (more…)

Census Reveals 17 Million Girls Killed in India in age group 1-15 years!

0-6 years! That’s the officially defined age group I was always suspicious of when looking at gender data in India.


by Rita Banerji

The 2011 census data for India shows that 18 million girls were exterminated from the population before the age of 15 years.  People often assume that this is primarily due sex-selected abortions.  However, the age-wise analysis of India’s latest census data not only reveals that most of the girls are killed after birth, but that the killings actually increase with age!

For last 7 years I have consistently argued, that the government uses an extremely obscure and strange age range, 0-6 years, to determine child sex ratio.  What constitutues 0 age?  Fetuses? And why would the government put aborted female fetuses and girls killed after birth till the age of 6 years into the same ‘age’ category?  Moreover,  why is 6 years the cut-off age for the child sex ratio age?  Why not 0-2 years or 0-10 years to determine child sex ratio? Is this…

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Evan Grae Davis: Will My Film ‘It’s A Girl’ Launch a Global Movement to End Female Gendercide?

Above is a quote (click on the link and read in full) from the director of ‘It’s a Girl!’ a recently released film on female gendercide in India and China, for which I was one of the many people interviewed. 

India’s female gendercide has become my life’s agenda ever since I started The 50 Million Missing Campaign in 2006 to raise global awareness about this horrendous human rights disaster in India, and to lobby political and social momentum for official accountability and action, of the kind that all genocides warrant.

During this time I’ve been interviewed by many journalists in India and outside, and one of the things I find most disheartening is how often the media, even women in the media, end up dehumanizing this dehumanized event! I’m often asked by journalists about “the shortage of women in India.” SHORTAGE? I want to yell. You talk about food shortage, water shortage, resource shortage. But women ‘shortage?’ What are they thinking? Obviously they are thinking of women as reproductive and sexual RESOURCES for men!!! If their vision of this mass slaughter of women in India is so dehumanized is it little wonder that the world looks at this not as a human rights issue but a mathematical problem. They say the ‘ratio’ of women is dropping. Have you ever heard of the annihilation of any other group in ratios and measures like this?

And so when the team of the “It’s a Girl!” film came to interview me, I watched them closely, cagily, like I always do. My defenses are always up. But it was different from the start. They were coming from the U.S. to India, and we had an appointment for a certain day at 10 a.m. I’ve had reporters from the city sometimes call me 10 times to find their way through the lanes, and they end up an hour or so late trying to find their way. So I assumed it would be the same with the It’s a Girl movie team. But no, as I leaned over my balcony, to my complete amazement a cab pulled in at five to 10 a.m. precisely!! That was not all. The other pet peeve I’ve had with the reports on India’s gendercide in the media are that the journalist it often seems to me already has their ‘story’ in the head. They just need me to fill in the numbers and statistics and just repeat some of the things they need me to say to seal it all in. I can, like I always do, give them all the reference, papers, numbers, and chapters from my book Sex and Power, asking them to read that stuff before we meet, so we can discuss the real issues. But it never happens that way! So again I was amazed that the producer of the ‘It’s a Girl’ team had a copy of my book in his hand, which they obviously had read through, and marked passages they wanted to discuss.

I realized they had come to understand!!  They have the figures and numbers but they need to talk to really get to the heart of this issue. And that’s what we did. We talked and talked and talked for almost 10 hours. After they returned, they continued to email me with questions, feedback etc. The one thing that put my mind at ease was that finally someone was taking this to heart. This was not a cut and paste “story” for them.

Looking at their hour long documentary, I can only guess the number of months they put into it talking and meeting with all those other people besides me in this documentary. For them this was not just another media story, a relevant report, but an ideological quest, that fitted into their version of a global humanity and human rights. Amnesty International has officially nominated this film for their 2012 Reel Film Festival on films that deal with critical human rights issues.

I’m so glad that finally — India’s female genocide is not a mathematical or a “resource problem”, but is now officially a human rights issue. I feel much gratitude to Evan Grae Davis, the director, and the producer Andrew and the rest of the team for giving me, my campaign, and the women of India and China a voice in the world to protest the wrong done to us, and most of all to remind the world that we are HUMAN and members of a global community that needs to take a stand and speak up!


Nothing I had seen in my travels around the world as a documentary film makereven remotely compared to the scale of routine injusticein the practice of  female gendercide.

We met courageous activists in India  willing to share their first-hand experience with gendercide, yet frustrated with the lack of support and awareness. We spoke with doctors and government officials unwilling to

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What Happen’s to India’s ‘Karma’ After Killing 50 Million Women?

“But what about the collected Karma after all this killing?”

This is what a friend, who is Swiss, had asked me in 2006, when I told him that in less than 3 generations India had, systematically, without blinking an eyelid,  exterminated at least 50 million women from its population, killing them at every stage of life.

Not surprisingly, that is one of the questions I’m frequently asked as founder of The 50 Million Missing Campaign, a global online lobby to raise awareness about India’s female genocide.  After all isn’t India the land of religion and spirituality, and isn’t Karma a big part of the Hindu philosophy — this idea that whatever you do, comes back to you in one way or another?

The answer to this question I put into an article “The Schizophrenia of Moral Systems” I had written for the Word Worth Magazine (Vol 6, No.10, Oct 2006).

To read the article click here (and then click on ‘Columns’)

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