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Gender inequality at birth poses continuing challenge

Update: October, 01/2015 - 08:00
Mong children play a game on their way back home from school in the northen mountainous province of Yen Bai. The country's gender inequality could lead to later marriages, men remaining unmarried, increased prostitution and women trafficking and potentially more divorces.—VNS Photo Viet Thanh

DA NANG (VNS) — There could be between 2.3 million to 4.3 million less women than men in Viet Nam by 2025, warned deputy head of communication and education office from the General Department of Population and Family Planning, Mai Xuan Phuong at a recent press briefing in Da Nang city.

Phuong said gender inequality at birth in Viet Nam has increased from a ratio of 110.5 boys per 100 girls in 2009 to 112.2 boys per 100 girls in 2014.

This gender inequality could lead to later marriages, men remaining unmarried, increased prostitution and women trafficking and potentially more divorces.

Phuong said most mothers want to have a son and often select gender from their first pregnancy.

"Gender inequality at birth results from traditional culture where most families want a son to continue their family name," he said.

"We need mass communication on raising awareness and changing habits among leadership, grassroot administration and communities, as well as boosting education on gender equality in school and society," he added.

Phuong said promoting the role of women in family and society would help reduce gender inequality at birth in Viet Nam.

"Some countries had succeeded with education on the role of women and girls at school, family, society. More strict legal regulations or a ban on gender selection as well as raising moral and responsibility among medical staffs could also work," he said.

According to the General Department of Population and Family Planning, efforts were made to control the birth rate in Viet Nam between 1945-2014, resulting in a population today of about 90.5 million, 20 million lower than previous estimates.

Deputy director of the General Department of Population and Family Planning, Le Canh Nhac warned that the country's population is in its ‘golden index' (two thirds of the population in labour age), but it has a quick aging rate.

"Despite the benefits of the ‘golden population index', Viet Nam has some population difficulties, including poor health, low productivity and a lack of social welfare for the elderly," Nhac said.

He said 70 per cent of elderly people in Viet Nam, who mostly live in rural areas, do not have pensions or social welfare assistance.

He added that the elderly are often taken care of by their first child and their lives depend on their descendants.

A report from the General Department of Population and Family Planning shows that life expectancy in Viet Nam is estimated to increase from 69 to 80.4 in 2050.

The report also warns that gender inequality at birth would increase at 28 coastal provinces due to the fishing trade needing a majority of men.

Nhac said communication would play a key role in decreasing gender inequality at birth. — VNS

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