This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Demography And Equality:The Causes, Consequences And Policy Challenges Of Skewed Sex-Ratios In India

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Karina Kaur:

Skewed sex ratios are a serious problem in Indian society and one which threatens to widen unless serious attempts are made by the Indian government to control them. The Northern states of Punjab and Haryana have the worst cases of skewed sex ratios, closely followed by many North Western states. In comparison, Kerala has relative gender equality, following a western model of development; it has achieved a higher standard of living for its residents, nearly full levels of literacy and advanced health care. Fertility rates are considerably lower at an average of 1.8 and mortality rates amongst infants are incredibly low when compared to the rest of India. This has resulted in an improved quality for of life for citizens, and parents can divide their time and finances more generously amongst fewer children. Participation in agricultural labour can similarly affect sex ratios. Wheat farming in the North requires the intense participation of men, whereas women still play an important role in rice cultivation in the South. Nevertheless some attention should be paid to the decreasing survival rate of infant girls in Kerala, between the ages of 0-6 years, which highlights that parents ultimately prioritise the healthcare of their son’s over their daughter’s.

The age old practice of infanticide, on many occasions assisted by informal midwives (Dai’s); traditionally a high caste practice, however recently adapted by lower castes, has been the most primary form of discrimination. Gender imbalance has exacerbated further with the introduction of prenatal testing technology, which is widely used in India at a comparatively low fee, to extortionate dowry payments which families must endure when having daughters. Other forms of discrimination such as female neglect, which often get overlooked, decrease the survival rate of female infants. Low literacy rates amongst women, due to the prioritising of male education, especially in rural areas, disadvantage them further and consequently decrease their autonomy within the home. Fertility is intrinsically linked to gender inequality, as women lack control over their bodies and are expected to endure as many pregnancies necessary in order to have sons.

A closer look at patriarchy, which is embedded within Indian society, highlights the inferior status of women. Marriage practices displace women from their natal home and, subsequently eliminate a support network, leaving many vulnerable. The emphasis in India lies in securing a male heir, in order to gain respect and old age security and therefore sons are treated as economic assets. In comparison daughters are considered financial liabilities because of the traditional practice of dowry which has increased rapidly in India and can impoverish poor households. The occurrence of modernisation seems to have contributed to the rise in dowry. Although, the social status of households increases, as no expense is spared in extravagant marriage ceremonies, which are always forked out by the bride’s family. The importance of caste should not be overlooked as the practice of ‘sanstritization’ has led to higher dowries amongst all castes and an increase in exogamous marriages. There is a huge emphasis on the male lineage and this is carried through generations which consequently results in the loss of female identities. The extended family contributes to a son preference in India, as men remain within their household as their women make all the sacrifices, often sever their links with their natal home in order to start their new life with unfamiliar people. There are economic returns in having sons and investing in their education as they provide income for their families in later life.

In order to achieve gender equality, the need for the empowerment of women is paramount. This is primarily through enforcing existing legislation such as bans on pre-natal testing and dowries by coming down hard on establishments and individual perpetrators. Socially, powerful female voices should be encouraged to use their position in order to truly put gender on the agenda. India should follow in the footsteps of the successful Kerala model of development; with fairer food prices; universal education and better healthcare which can eliminate the first instance of gender discrimination. Education empowers women, and with the introduction of compulsory, free education, more women can begin to enter the labour market and be formidable competitors to men. The existence of social movements, which are supported financially by organisations such as the World Bank, aim to invest in women in order to improve their position. Organisations such as SEWA, aim to protect women who work outside of the public sector and this economic power subsequently increases their autonomy. There needs to be less social stigma attached to women entering the labour force in general, and this can only happen with the formation of nuclear families. Inheritance laws should be reformed so that they do not favour men and this can gradually replace dowry practices, which would mean women do not lose their bond with their natal homes.

If India fails to close the gender gap, the long-term effects of male bias will be detrimental to society. It will ultimately lead to the further discrimination of women and eternal bachelorhood for lower caste men who will be left out of the marriage market, which is socially frowned upon in India. India’s modernisation aspirations will be jeopardised if it fails to give their women the most fundamental and basic human rights.

You must be to comment.
  1. Yash veer

    Wow what a great thought the Indian society needs. Karina kaur has highlighted the cause so minutely and rightfully which even the biggest bosses in Indian Polity seldom look.Buck up Karina Kaur we are all with you on such a crusade against these practices still going on in India and congratulate you for taking up such a social reform by writing so correctly and boldly. God Bless you

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Archana Mishra

By Prakash Chand

By Fazlu Raheman

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below