July prayer focus: Pray for women and girls

In many countries, women and girls are extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and are not treated with the same respect as men. Join us in praying that women and girls everywhere may live the abundant life God intends for them.

By Pat Curry, World Vision U.S.
Published July 6, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

“The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is interwoven with gold.” —Psalm 45:13 (NASB)

The psalmist’s words reflect how God sees His daughters — beautiful, strong, and worthy of respect. Around the world, however, many millions of women and girls are not respected.

Women and girls work nearly two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half the planet’s food. But they earn only 10 percent of the world’s income and own just 1 percent of property. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate adults are women.

Rich Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., discusses this in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel. “In my opinion, the single most significant thing that can be done to cure extreme poverty is this: Protect, educate, and nurture girls and women and provide them with equal rights and opportunities — educationally, economically, and socially,” he writes.

This month, join us in praying that women and girls everywhere may live the abundant life God intends for them. Below are some suggested prayer points.

Pray for the safety of unborn and infant girls

The dangers girls face begin before they are even born. In some cultures, a preference for sons puts pressure on women to terminate pregnancies if the unborn child is a girl. Those who do survive until birth may be neglected, abandoned, or even killed. Seen as less valuable than boys, girls are less likely to be sent to school and may be the last to receive food or medical care.

Ask God to protect these young girls from those who fail to see their true value.

Dear Lord, the psalmist tells us that You know us in our mothers womb (Psalm 139). Touch the lives of girls even before they are born. Let them be born healthy and whole, and let their parents love and cherish them as much as You do.

Pray for the safety of girls as they go to school

The journey to and from school can be risky for females — especially in rural areas where children must walk long distances. Even older girls often must leave their rural communities to pursue higher education, making them vulnerable to attack in a more urban setting. A 2009 UNICEF survey conducted in Zimbabwe shows girls are sexually abused nearly six times more often than boys.

Ask God to honor the desire of these girls’ hearts to become educated, and provide them with safe passage to and from school.

Dear Lord, You tell us in Proverbs 2:2-4 that we should desire wisdom above all else and search for it like hidden treasure. Protect girls who are seeking wisdom. Keep them safe as they travel to and from school and while they are in class.

Pray for girls who are forced into early marriage

Poverty and tradition in many developing countries result in girls becoming wives and mothers long before they are physically and emotionally ready. In Bangladesh, more than half of girls are married before the age of 15, often to much older men.

Girls who marry early are much more likely to drop out of school. Since their bodies are not yet mature, the risk of complications — including death in childbirth — is higher for them than for adult women. They also have a higher risk of giving birth to an underweight or stillborn child.

Ask God to touch these precious girls who are forced into early marriage and give their parents the resources they need to resist offering their daughters to older men.

Dear Lord, You came from heaven that we might have an abundant life. Girls who are forced into marriage often lose their opportunity to live a hope-filled life. Speak into the hearts of their parents to look for other ways to care for their families without robbing their daughters of their childhood and their education.

Pray that women will be equipped to start their own businesses

Millions of women in poor communities around the world are learning to operate small businesses, such as tailoring, mat weaving, or selling vegetables they grow. As women gain confidence in operating these businesses, they are able to positively influence family decision-making on important issues such as food choice, children's education, healthcare, and teen marriage.

Ask God to bless organizations, including World Vision, that provide training and microfinance support to lift women and their families out of poverty.

Dear Lord, thank You for the organizations that provide women with loans to start their own businesses. Bless these small business ventures so families can live healthier, more secure lives.

Pray for access to clean, safe drinking water

In many cultures, women and girls are responsible for collecting water for drinking and cooking. They must often walk for hours every day to complete this task, keeping girls from going to school and robbing mothers of time with their children.

When wells are drilled in rural villages, women and girls no longer have to spend hours each day accessing water.

Ask God to protect women and girls during these long daily walks and help them connect with organizations like World Vision that help bring clean water closer to their homes.

Dear Lord, as millions of women and girls continue to walk every day to collect water, please walk beside them and keep them from harm. Bless the work of organizations that provide clean water so that more women and girls can leave this task behind to lead more productive and meaningful lives.

More ways to help…

Sign up to receive monthly Hope Prayer Team emails. By joining World Vision’s Hope Prayer Team, you will receive a monthly email that includes news from around the world, guided prayer points for urgent requests, and links to other ways you can care for children in need.

Make a one-time gift to help support women and girls in crisis. Your gift will go where it’s needed most, protecting girls and women by equipping skilled, local staff members to offer training, education, counseling, small business loans, and other programs that reach women and girls — helping to end cycles of abuse and unhealthy beliefs.