Report calls for an end to gender-biased sex selection

July 18, 2020 - 09:00
For Việt Nam alone, 40,800 female births are estimated to be missing every year.
A village-based midwife gives health care guidance to a mother in Mường Nhé District, the northern mountainous province of Điện Biên. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc

HÀ NỘI — Gender equality has improved in Việt Nam over the years, but gender-biased sex selection remains persistent and has been identified as the major cause of an imbalance in the sex ratio at birth (SRB) in the country, a study has found.

The State of World Population 2020 was launched on Friday in Hà Nội by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The skewed SRB in Việt Nam was first identified in 2004, and since 2005, the imbalance towards more boys has rapidly increased and reached 111.5 boys per 100 girls in 2019 as indicated in the 2019 Census, against the biologically normal SRB of 105.

The State of the World Population Report 2020 found that for Việt Nam alone, 40,800 female births are estimated to be missing every year, as shown in the unbalanced SRB.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Phạm Ngọc Tiến, director of the Gender Equality Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said: “Việt Nam has always considered gender equality as both a goal and a driving force for sustainable development. We have built and continued to improve the legal framework to better work in this important and relatively unfamiliar area.

Bringing SRB to the natural balance is one of the goals of the National Strategy on Gender Equality for the 2021 - 2030 period which is being developed to submit to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc for approval this year, he said.

Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Việt Nam, said: “We must put an end to son preference and the undervaluing of girls in our efforts to promote gender equality in the country. Việt Nam is making progress, but the progress must be accelerated within the context of the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development Goals.”  

“In this regard, men have a special role to play. I call on Vietnamese men to raise the value of girls and demand equal treatment and equal rights. In particular, we need men and boys to support this effort,” she added. 

At the launch, the Government and UNFPA affirmed their commitment and called for urgent action to end this harmful practice.

In the world, an estimated 4.1 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation this year. As many as 33,000 girls under age 18 will be forced into marriages, usually to much older men. Also, an extreme preference for sons over daughters in some countries has fueled gender-biased sex selection or extreme neglect that leads to their death as children, resulting in 140 million missing females.

UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said: “We must tackle the problem by tackling the root causes, especially gender-biased norms. We must do a better job of supporting communities’ own efforts to understand the toll these practices are taking on girls and the benefits that accrue to the whole of society by stopping them.” — VNS