Indian Village Plants Trees for Girls

The initiative aims to promote gender equality and has boosted the village’s economy.

When the former leader of the small village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India, lost his daughter when she was very young, he wanted to come up with something that would cherish the life of each girl child to be born. That’s when he thought up the idea of creating an initiative in which 111 trees are planted to celebrate the birth of each girl born in the village.

The man behind the initiative, Shyam Sundar Paliwal, says some 60 girls are born in the village each year. But in half these cases, parents were reluctant to accept girl children since they were viewed as less valuable and more expensive - something that's incredibly difficult to understand for western minds. The tree-planting programme seemed a good way to encourage families to celebrate the girls in their families, and to combat a deep-seated culture of female feticide.

Under the initiative, which started in 2006, villagers plant the trees in the Piplantri’s grazing commons. Together, the community ensures that the trees flourish and grow well into adulthood. One way they protect the trees is by growing aloe vera plants around the trees to act as natural pesticides. This, in turn, has led to a new source of income in Piplantri as villagers have begun processing and selling the aloe vera.

With the tree-planting initiative, Paliwal believes in helping change this narrative around young girls by encouraging families to celebrate the birth of each girl.

However, Paliwal's idea goes beyond tree-planting, as the villagers collectively gather 21,000 rupees (around $315) and combine it with a contribution of 10,000 rupees (around $150) from the parents to create a fixed deposit account that will help see the girl through to adulthood.

And while the trees are being planted, the parents also sign a legal affidavit that states that their daughter will receive a full education and will not be married before she comes of the legal age of 18.

OGN celebrates this delightful story and hope the idea spreads far and wide to create a significant cultural shift for greater gender equality.



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