SelfieWithDaughter: Can India save 23 million girls?

India’s child sex-ratio (below six years) is now the worst in 70 years, possibly the worst ever. The latest decline was from 927 (girls per 1,000 boys) in 2001 to 918 in 2011.

The child sex-ratio, if it does not improve, will lead to a deficit of 23 million women in the 20-49 age group by 2040.

Urbanisation is worsening the child sex-ratio: it is 905 in towns and cities, 923 in rural areas.

Three of five states with the worst child sex-ratio have higher per capita income than the national average, but the link with prosperity is less clear.

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.

The reasons for the lower sex ratio in urban areas, as IndiaSpend reported earlier, are easy accessibility to sonography centres for sex determination and other procedures.

Haryana has the worst child sex-ratio in the country with 834 girls per 1,000 boys. Most states among the top five have improved over the last decade, but they still remain among the states with the lowest sex ratios.

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.

Only two states, Rajasthan and J&K, have a lower per capita income. In both states, as we noted, the child sex-ratio has fallen.

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.

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