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National Concerns: 46 million girls went missing in India

State of World’s Population 2020 Report

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State of World Population 2020 Report
State of World’s Population 2020 Report

In News:

  • United Nations Population Fund has released its annual publication the State of World’s Population 2020 Report.
  • The latest UNFPA report focuses on the three most prevalent issues-
    1. Female genital mutilation
    2. Child marriage
    3. Extreme bias against daughters in favour of sons

State of World Population Report (SWOP), 2020:

Major Observations:

  • The report makes shocking observations on the 3 issues discussed above. These are-
  • An estimated 1 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation in 2019.
  • Everyday 33,000 girls under age 18 will be forced into marriages, usually to much older men.
  • There exists an extreme preference for sons over daughters in some countries. This fuels gender-biased sex selection or extreme neglect that leads to their death as children
  • Such harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential. Son-preference has led to the phenomenon of “missing’women.”

Statistics of Past 50 years- SWOP 2020

  • As per the report, in the last 50 years, worldwide there are total 142 million missing women.
  • The number of total missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years, who were at 61 million in 1970.
  • India and China account for majority of such women globally.
  • India accounted for 45.8 (46 million) million missing females as of 2020 and China accounted for 72.3 million (73 million).

Statistics of Past 5 years- SWOP 2020

  • According to estimates averaged over a five year period (2013-17), annually, there were 1.2 million missing female births, at a global level.

“Missing Women”- Explained

  • “Missing females” are women missing from the population at given dates due to the cumulative effect of postnatal and prenatal sex selection in the past.
  • The report examines the issue of missing women by-
    1. Studying sex ratio imbalances at birth as a result of gender-biased sex selection
    2. Excess female mortality due to deliberate neglect of girls because of a culture of son preference.
    3. Excess Female Mortality (EFM) is the difference between observed and expected mortality of the girl child or avoidable death of girls during childhood.

SWOP 2020- Observations for India

  • As per the report, in the 50 years, one in three girls missing globally due to sex selection, both pre- and post-natal, are from India.
  • India had about 4,60,000 girls ‘missing’ at birth each year.
  • According to one analysis, gender-biased sex selection accounts for about two-thirds of the total missing girls, and post-birth female mortality accounts for about one-third.

Major Findings on Excess Female Mortality (EFM)

  • India has the highest rate of excess female deaths at 13.5 per 1,000 female births or one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 due to postnatal sex selection.
  • This is poorer than Asian countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan where EFM of girls below 5 years of age was under 3 per cent.

Reasons of High EFM:

  • This high rate of EFM is attributed to the advent of technology and increased access to ultrasound imaging ensured that parents didn’t have to wait for the birth of their girl child to kill her but could terminate a foetus upon knowing its gender.
  • This resulted in the number of girls missing due to female foeticide exceeding those that were missing because of postnatal sex selection.

Major Implications of Skewed Sex Ratios:

  • These skewed numbers translate into long-term shifts in the proportions of women and men in the population of some countries.
  • In many countries this results in a “marriage squeeze” as prospective grooms far outnumber prospective brides, which further results in human trafficking for marriage as well as child marriages.
  • This demographic imbalance will have an inevitable impact on marriage systems. In countries like India where marriage is nearly universal, many men may need to delay or forego marriage because they will be unable to find a spouse.

Initiatives of India:

  • The report also notes that governments have also taken action to address the root causes of sex selection.
  • India and Vietnam have included campaigns that target gender stereotypes to change attitudes and open the door to new norms and behaviours.
  • The report also applauded example of India’s successful cash-transfer initiative such as ‘Apni Beti Apna Dhan’ for encouraging school education of girls.

Why do Sexual and Reproductive Rights Matter?

  • Sexual and reproductive health problems are a leading cause of death and disability for women in the developing world. 
  • These issues are more prominent in developing countries and poorer regions of the world. More than 760 million people are still mired in extreme poverty.
  • Therefore, as these issues are matters of basic human rights, sexual and reproductive rights matter for women empowerment.

Way Ahead:

  • Decades of experience and research show that bottom-up, grassroots approaches are better at bringing change.
  • Economies and the legal systems that support them must be restructured to guarantee every woman equal opportunities.
  • For example, changing rules for property inheritance can eliminate a powerful incentive for families to favour sons over daughters and help to eliminate child marriage.
  • Ending child marriage and female genital mutilation worldwide is possible by scaling up efforts to keep girls in school longer and teach them life skills.
  • Also men and boys should be engaged in social change.

About: UNFPA

  • The United Nations Fund for Population Activities was established as a trust fund in 1967 and began operations in 1969.
  • In 1987, it was officially renamed the United Nations Population Fund, reflecting its lead role in the United Nations system in the area of population. (The original abbreviation, UNFPA, was retained.)
  • Goal of UNFPA: The goal of UNFPA is ensure reproductive rights for all, especially women and young people.
  • Mandate of UNFPA
    1. To build the knowledge and the capacity to respond to needs in population and family planning;
    2. To promote awareness in both developed and developing countries of population problems and possible strategies to deal with these problems;
    3. To assist their population problems in the forms and means best suited to the individual countries’ needs;
    4. to assume a leading role in the United Nations system in promoting population programmes, and to coordinate projects supported by the Fund.
  • Funding of UNFPA: UNFPA is entirely supported by voluntary contributions of donor governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, and foundations and individuals, not by the United Nations regular budget.
  • Annual Publication: UNFPA’s annual publication is State of Would Population Report which discusses varied themes and multiple issues concerned with human population and development.

Also Read: National Concerns:1 in 5 deaths in MP is a child under 5, just 2% in Kerala

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