UNFPA: 117 Million Women “Missing” In Asia Due To Gender Imbalances
At an international forum on Wednesday, Nobuko Horibe of the United Nations Population Fund said that some 117 million women were “missing” in Asia today due to sex selective abortions.
AsianScientist (Oct. 7, 2011) – Joint international and national actions to end prenatal sex selection and discrimination against women should remain a priority for all, said Nobuko Horibe, the Director of United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Asia and Pacific Regional Office, at the opening of an international forum to find more ways to reduce sex ratio imbalances.
“We must join forces to ensure that sex selection is understood as discrimination against women and girls and should end,” Ms. Horibe said in her speech to experts from 11 Asian, Eastern European and Caucasian nations.
“We must accelerate our efforts and give priority to developing programmes and policies that foster norms and an attitude of ‘zero tolerance’ for discrimination, harmful attitudes and unethical practices, such as prenatal sex selection. Gender equality is at the very heart of each country’s successful development.”
Ms. Horibe told the October 5-6 workshop participants that some 117 million women were “missing” in Asia today and suggested ways forward.
“Improving gender equality and supporting national policies to address sex ratio imbalance require urgent, concerted efforts by all segments of the government and society,” she stressed.
“It requires strong political commitment as well as downstream actions at the community level to promote behavior change and to address complex socio-cultural realities. This is why we are all here today. By bringing together our experiences and capacities, we can strengthen our efforts to tackle sex selection.”
The Asia/Pacific Director reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to continue supporting efforts to end sex ratio imbalances at national, regional, and global levels, based in its experience.
The Director also warned about the dire consequences of gender imbalances: a “marriage squeeze” because men are unable to find brides, leading to potential social unrest.
“Many men face the prospect of not finding brides, creating the risks of potential social unrest, increased sexual violence against women, and trafficking,” said Ms. Horibe.
“Already, we are seeing an increase in cross-border brides, and there are signs of how the upcoming “marriage squeeze” could lead to social disturbances,” she said.
A recent study published in The Lancet found that many Indian families with a first born female child were aborting their second child if prenatal testing shows it to be a girl. The authors estimate that between 4 to 12 million girls have been selectively aborted over last three decades in India.
Source: United Nations Population Fund; Photo: Ray Witlin/World Bank.
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