A Less Valued Life: Population Policy and Sex Selection in India

Rupsa Mallik, Center for Health and Gender Equity

In this policy analysis, based mainly on secondary data and documentary review, the link between population policies and use of sex selection as part of family building strategies will be examined. Recently, both the national and state governments have formulated population policies to hasten the transition to replacement level fertility. Implementation strategies include the use of incentives and disincentives and an inordinate focus on sterilization. At the same time recent shift to smaller families has not necessarily been accompanied by a concurrent shift in the social and economic pressures that underlie preference for sons over daughters. Therefore the implementation of coercive population policies could well result in the increased acceptance and reliance on the use of sex selection strategies to plan smaller families and ensure the birth of desired number of sons. It can be concluded that these policies often ignore the gender dimensions of reproductive decision-making, and thereby sustain and at times even exacerbate gender-based inequities.

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Presented in Session 28: Gender Preferences for Children