Sex Ratios and Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions

The sharply declining child sex ratio in India has reached emergency proportions and urgent action must be taken to alleviate this crisis, according to UN Women.

UN Women, supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), published a study in July 2014 entitled ‘Sex Ratios and Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions’. This study aims to provide a more holistic understanding of gender-biased sex selection and to help organisations and people working on the problem to identify major ways forward.

The study maps existing evidence on gender biased sex selection in the Indian context, weaving in significant social debates and policy developments. It offers practical suggestions to advance research and understanding on the subject by focusing on areas such as family and household, education, labour and employment, and on institutions that directly or indirectly aid or fight the practice of sex selection.

The report also provides a brief overview of the sociological and ethnographic areas of study, including the role of civil society and the state, and changing familial patterns. Unequal inheritance rights, dowry, unequal socio-religious status, unpaid work, unequal pay, lack of economic opportunities for women, focus on male lineage, a culture of honour that places a greater burden of safety and protection on the parents of girls - all areas that contribute to building a society that favours sons and men, and neglects daughters and women.

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(UN Women/ile)