India has 63 million fewer women than it should have.
According to the government’s annual economic survey, more than 63 million women are missing in India. It also highlighted the fact that over 21 million girls aren’t wanted by their families.
“The challenge of gender is long-standing, probably going back millennia,” wrote the report’s author, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian. He noted that India must “confront the societal preference for boys”.
Here are are some highlights from the report
The birth of a son is preferred in India, and girls receive less education, poorer nutrition and less medical attention than boys.
Increasing wealth does not stop the preference for males among families. In fact, wealthy areas, including New Delhi, fare worse in terms of preference for a son
The best scores for women’s development were in India’s north-east, which was called a model for the rest of India.
The skewed ratio is because of sex-selective abortions. The survey also found that families where a son is born are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born.
Between 2005-06 and 2015-16, the sex ratio of last birth (females per hundred births) has barely budged from 39.5 per cent to 39 per cent.
The survey also talks about female labour force participation, saying that it is actually decreasing. In 2005-06, the number of women employed was 36 per cent, in 2015-16, it dipped to 24 per cent
“There is a long and contested literature on whether this decline is a cause for concern or will improve naturally with time and development. There is the more general phenomenon, documented by Goldin et al (1995), of a U-shaped behaviour of female labour force participation with respect to development. India is on the downward part of the ‘U’ but even more so than comparable countries,” says the survey.
Improved incomes of men actually make women withdraw from work.. What’s more is that higher education enables women to pursue leisure and non-work activities, says the survey.
The survey says that the intrinsic value of gender equality cannot be contested. But as women gain political power and pubic status, they must try and close the gender gap.