By Prachi Salve:
Taking inspiration from a sarpanch (headman) in Haryana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his radio show Maan Ki Baat (On My Mind), on June 28, launched the hashtag #SelfieWithDaughter to draw attention to India’s plummeting sex ratio.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 29, 2015
So, here is a look at the numbers:
The overall sex ratio has risen from 933 in 2001 to 943 in 2011, thanks to improved life expectancy among females to 67.7 years.
Demographers attribute improvements in the overall sex ratio to rising female life expectancy; women in India now outlive men, as lifestyles and diseases take a greater toll on men.
India overturns the natural balance
But the scenario for the future is grim because India’s declining child sex-ratio indicates that girls are increasingly being aborted, killed or otherwise dying:
The rate of decline has worsened in the years during which the overall sex ratio began to improve. This corresponds to the decades following 1981, offering evidence of sex-determination tests, selective abortion and female infanticide.
Only China, Pakistan Are Worse
How does India compare to its partners in BRIC and its neighbours?
Russia has the highest sex ratio with 1,165 women per 1,000 men, while Bhutan has the lowest with 897.
The urban sex ratio for 2011 is 905, while rural India’s is 923.
Rajasthan and J&K are the only two states in this list where the child sex-ratio has fallen further.
Prosperity Not Always A Cause For Low Sex Ratios
The link between low child sex-ratio and per capita income is tenuous. Three of five states with a low child sex-ratio have a higher per capita income than the national average.
23 Million Fewer Girls Predicted By 2040
The declining child sex-ratio will lead to a deficit of 23 million females in the 20-49 age group by 2040, according to a study by the United Nations Population Fund.
With fewer women of marriageable age, a significant proportion of men will have to delay their marriage.
It will also affect younger generations of men: they will face a backlog of older, unmarried men, who will still be in the “marriage market”.
“Scarcity of women would not enhance their position in society due to the simultaneous increase in pressure to marry, higher risk of gender-based violence, rising demand for sex work and the development of trafficking networks,” said the UN study.
This article was originally published on IndiaSpend.
Salve is a policy analyst with IndiaSpend.