Context: According to the UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2020 report: Against my will , one in three girls missing globally due to sex selection, both pre- and post-natal, is from India which equals to 46 million out of the total 142 million

Objective of the report: 

  • The report examines the issue of missing women by studying sex ratio imbalances at birth.
  • It identifies the causes behind these imbalances as  gender-biased sex selection and excess female mortality due to deliberate neglect of girls because of a culture of son preference. 
    • Excess female mortality is the difference between observed and expected mortality of the girl child or avoidable death of girls during childhood.
    • Sex ratio measures the number of females born for every 1,000 males.

Key findings of the report

  • Missing women:
    • The number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years, who were at 61 million in 1970.
    • Annually, on an average there were 1.2 million missing female births, at a global level. 
    • India had about 4,60,000 girls ‘missing’ at birth each year.
  • Excess female deaths:
    • India has the highest rate of excess female deaths at 13.5 per 1,000 female births or one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 due to postnatal sex selection. 
    • In Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan excess female mortality of girls below 5 years of age was under 3 per cent.
  • Gender-biased sex selection 
    • One in nine females below the age of 5 die due to postnatal sex selection.
    • It tends to be higher among wealthy families, but percolates down to lower-income families over time, as sex selection technologies become more accessible and affordable.
    • Due to the above factor, the number of girls missing due to female foeticide is more than those that were missing because of postnatal sex selection.
    • The Sample Registration System report, 2018, had said that sex ratio at birth in India for children born between 2016 and 2018 was just 899.
    • As per the 2011 Census, the latest to take place in the country, the sex ratio for all Indians was 940 females to 1,000 males.
    • Prenatal Conception and Prenatal Determination Act (PC-PNDT) has been enforced to check the menace.
  • “Marriage squeeze” : The skewed ratio causes the number of prospective grooms to outnumber prospective brides, which further results in human trafficking for marriage as well as child marriages.
  • Child marriage (positive news for India): According to the report, advances in India have contributed to a 50?cline in child marriages in South Asia. This corraborates the NFHS data which had said that child marriage in India fell from 47% in 2005-’06 to 26.8% in 2015-’16.
    • The National Family Health Survey 2015-’16 had shown that approximately one in four (26.8%) of Indian women are subjected to child marriage, defined as marriage before the age of 18.
    • The drivers of child marriage are poverty, insecurity and limited access to quality education and work opportunities.

About United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 

  • The organization was created in 1969, the same year the United Nations General Assembly declared “parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”
  • It is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. 
  • UNFPA is a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly. 
  • It reports to the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board of 36 UN Member States on administrative, financial and programme matters and receives overall policy guidance from the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). 
  • The Executive Board is composed of 36 members: eight from Africa, seven from Asia and the Pacific, four from Eastern Europe, five from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 12 from Western Europe and other developed countries.
  • Funding: UNFPA is entirely supported by voluntary contributions of donor governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, and foundations and individuals, not by the United Nations regular budget. 
  • Objective: UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services – including voluntary family planning, maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.