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Two Efforts to Empower Women in Uganda and India
Erica Barnett, 28 Aug 07
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Pratibha Patil, the first female president of India, has said she considers eliminating female feticide and sex-selective abortions top priorities of her administration. While the worldwide ratio of births is about 105 girls for every 100 boys, India's is less than 93 female births for every 100 males. According to UNICEF statistics, India is "missing" around 50 million girls and women as a result of sex-selective abortions, and the Indian Medical Association places the number of female abortions at five million a year.

Experts attribute female feticide and sex-selective abortion to the poor status of women in India, the high cost of paying a dowry when a woman is married, and the fact that the Hindu, Muslim, and Christian cultures in India regard the birth of a boy as especially auspicious.

The latest proposal to eliminate sex-selective abortions, made by India's Minister of Women and Health a few weeks before President Patil took office, is a misguided attempt to require every pregnant woman in India to register their pregnancy in a massive database. Thereafter, a woman could only get an abortion for a "valid and acceptable" reason. Indian reproductive rights activists are hopeful that Patil -- who has cited "empowering women" as crucial to empowering the nation -- will look at holistic solutions that empower women to take control of their own reproductive health and that target men, doctors, and clinics rather than further restricting the lives of women who already lack many basic freedoms.

In Uganda, Population Service International, a nonprofit that works to address health issues faced by low-income and vulnerable populations in developing nations, recently launched a campaign against cross-generational sex in Kampala, with the goal of fighting the spread of HIV in young girls and women. The campaign will focus on universities and secondary schools across Uganda.

Cross-generational sex is defined as sex between a girl or woman with a man at least ten years older than her, and is common in Uganda, where girls are often expected to marry while still in their teens, and where "transactional sex" -- sex in exchange for gifts or money -- is common. Studies have shown that HIV is four times more prevalent in girls between the ages of 15 and 24 than among boys the same age. The goal of the campaign is to empower girls and women to say no to cross-generational sex or to insist their partners use a condom -- a difficult but necessary goal in a country where, according to one survey of more than 45 studies of cross-generational sex, girls typically do not insist on condom use because of "social norms [or] lack of self-perceived risk of HIV," and the feeling that condom use "jeopardizes their goals for the relationship, including the receipt of money and gifts."

Image: Erica Barnett

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I will reiterate this till I am hoarse. The best solution to this and a million other problems in a country like India is education. Good, universal education will go a long way towards alleviating many of the issues that have been previously discovered on Worldchanging. There is a good reasons so many of the politicians back home don't want an educated public. They won't be able to pull the wool over their eyes quite as often

Posted by: Deepak on 27 Aug 07

It is a nice article.

I think we can find some information about women in development in India at site.

Posted by: cdm on 28 Aug 07



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