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Monday, March 29, 2010

India’s ‘missing women’ highest in Asia-Pacific: UNDP report

India has the highest number of women dying because of discriminatory treatment in access to healthcare and nutrition, sex-selective abortions and infanticide, in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, 42.7 million Indian females died for these reasons, says the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report launched on March 8, 2010. Titled ‘Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific’, the report focuses on gender equality.

The UNDP terms these “missing women” and India and China account for more than 80 million such women. This seriously skews the sex ratio. A March 4, 2010 article in The Economist said that in China and northern India more than 120 boys are being born for every 100 girls, and this goes up to 130 boys in some provinces in China.

“It is no exaggeration to call this ‘gendercide’. Women are missing in their millions --aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990, Indian economist Amartya Sen put the number at 100 million; the toll is higher now,” The Economist says.

Women comprise 51% of the population in most regions worldwide, yet they account for only 49% of the total population in Asia-Pacific, the UNDP report adds. In India, women account for 48.2 % of the population, the worst figure in the South Asia region, with Pakistan marginally better off at 48.5%, Bangladesh at 48.8% and Nepal and Sri Lanka at 50.4% and 50.5% respectively.

The report says there is a wide disparity between male and female child mortality rates in India: 72 per 1,000 male children under the age of 5, compared to 81 per 1,000 female children.

Lack of women’s participation in the workforce costs the region billions of dollars every year. In countries such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia, conservative estimates show that GDP would increase by up to 2-4% annually if women’s employment rates were raised to 70%, closer to the rate of many developed countries.

Fewer women than men are in paid work in every country in the region, with striking contrasts between South Asia and East Asia. Nearly 70% of East Asian women are in paid work, well above the global average of 53%, in countries such as Cambodia, China, and Vietnam, for example. In South Asian countries like India and Pakistan, fewer than 35% of women do paid work.

Despite laws guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, women in this region still earn considerably less than men, with the pay gap ranging from 54% to 90%. Women “consistently end up with some of the worst, most poorly-paid jobs -- often the ones that men don’t want to do, or that are assumed to be “naturally” suited to women,” the report found.

The Asia-Pacific region includes China, Mongolia, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Bhutan, Kiribati, Maldives, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, and Myanmar.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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