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It takes a village: how one community built a better future for its daughters

Whenever a girl is born in Piplantri, the villagers plant 111 new trees

It takes a village: how one community built a better future for its daughters

Whenever a girl is born in Piplantri, the villagers plant 111 new trees

It takes a village: how one community built a better future for its daughters

Whenever a girl is born in Piplantri, the villagers plant 111 new trees

It takes a village: how one community built a better future for its daughters

Whenever a girl is born in Piplantri, the villagers plant 111 new trees

In the face of global environmental crisis and India’s crisis of democracy, hope lies in the small-scale revolutions.

Piplantri is a small village in Rajasthan. Today, it is a green oasis in a semi-arid landscape. Fifteen years ago, it looked very different: ““In 2005, the drought was so bad the government had to send us water trains,” says Shyam Sundar Paliwal, the local sarpanch or elected village chief.

The trees on the hills had been cut down to make way for marble mines. The effects of climate change meant less rainfall, and local farmers were struggling to produce enough to feed their own families.

And this wasn’t the only problem in Piplantri. Girls were considered to be a curse rather than a blessing – so much so that when a girl was born a relative would push a sharp grain into the baby’s mouth, hoping to start an infection that would lead to her death. Families would marry their daughters off as early as possible, to rid themselves of the burden of another mouth to feed.

Today, it’s a very different story. Now the birth of a girl is celebrated. Girls are educated in the same way as their brothers. Their lives are valued equally. Women have become community leaders.

In just over a decade, everything has changed.

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