Gender Bias against Female Children in India: Regional Differences and their Implications for MDGs

Perianayagam Arokiasamy, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Jalandhar Pradhan, Aga Khan Health Service, India (AKHS,I)

The millennium development goals accorded highest priorities for achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. South Asian countries and India are societies with strong patriarchal norms, a high degree of son preference and pervasive gender discriminations. Using National family health survey (1998-99) data, this paper adopts a multiple indicator approach to study gender bias on the basis of a series of female by male ratios with respect to school attendance, use of preventive and curative health care services and child nutrition status. Marked gender differences are demonstrated with respect to each of these indicators. The gender bias indices of immunization coverage and school attendance, however, indicate consistent sex differences, suggesting systematic neglect of female children. Considerable inequalities amongst the states are also demonstrated. Except in south Indian states, the odds of female children being underweight and discriminated against in preventive and curative care and in school attendance are significant.

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Presented in Session 45: Comparative Perspectives on Gender Inequality