In a 'developing' country like India, we are still aeons behind when it comes to women issues and safety.
On Tuesday, as per sources, a report was shared by the UN stating India makes for 45.8 million of the world's 146.6 million "missing females" over the past 50 years. The report even noted that India along with China forms a majority of such women globally. While China alone accounts for 72.3 million.
The State of World Population 2020 report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world organisation's sexual and reproductive health agency shared that the number of "missing women" in the past 50 years has more than doubled. The numbers have gone from 61 million in 1970 to a cumulative 142.6 million in 2020.
"Missing women" according to the agency is defined as women missing from the population at any given dates because of the cumulative effect of postnatal and prenatal sex selection in the past. The report even stated that:
Between 2013 and 2017, about 460,000 girls in India were '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.
Together with China and India, they account for about 90-95% of the estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million missing female births annually worldwide. This is due to gender-biased (prenatal) sex selection. While the two countries also made for the largest number of births each year, according to the report.
It shared that governments have taken measures to deal with the root causes of sex selection. India, along with Vietnam, have incorporated campaigns that target gender stereotype to change attitudes of the people and make space for new norms and behaviours.
They spotlight the importance of daughters and highlight how girls and women have changed society for the better. Campaigns that celebrate women's progress and achievements may resonate more where daughter-only families can be shown to be prospering.
The report mentioned education-related interventions include the provision of cash transfers conditional on school attendance; support to look after school fees, uniforms, books etc including cash-transfer initiative like 'Apni Beti Apna Dhan' in India.
Globally, every year, millions of girls suffer due to practices that harm them physically and emotionally. This is done with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and even communities.
Harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential.
- UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem
Only this year, around 4.1 million girls will experience genital mutilation. Today, 33,000 under the age of 18 girls will be forcefully married to men who are usually much older. In some countries, because of this extreme gender-biased sex selection or even extreme neglect, leads to their deaths as children, accounting for 140 million "missing females."
With such grim numbers, it's about time that women safety is given the importance that it deserves.