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Strengthening gender equality and enhancing women and girls' empowerment are key to effectively addressing the imbalance of Sex Ratio at Birth

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Launch of the National Campaign "Join hands to address the Sex Ratio at Birth imbalance"

IMG 2737 resizedHA NOI, 23 September 2014 – The imbalance of the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) is an increasing concern in some Asian countries, where about 117 million women and girls are reported as “missing”. In Viet Nam, the SRB rose from 106.2 boys per 100 girls in 2000 to 113.8 boys per 100 girls in 2013, and it is expected that this sharp trend continues. If no interventions are undertaken, it is estimated that by 2050, Viet Nam will be confronted with a scenario of a surplus  of around 2.3 to 4.3 million men who will not be able to find a wife. There is ample evidence in Asia and in Viet Nam to show that the SRB imbalance is largely caused by gender-biased sex selection, which is driven in turn by deep-rooted cultural norms favouring sons and placing lower values on girls. Such deep-rooted traditions place huge pressures on women to produce sons, which ultimately affects their overall social economic status as well as their sexual and reproductive lives, with implications for their health and survival.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Girl Child (11 October), the General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP), Ministry of Health in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam launches today a national campaign on “Join hands to address the Sex Ratio at Birth imbalance”. The campaign aims to raise awareness among the general public on the causes and consequences of gender-biased sex selection and to call for greater efforts by the government and all stakeholders to join hands to bring an end to this phenomenon, which is a form of gender discrimination.

Addressing the launch, Mr. Nguyen Van Tan, Director of the GOPFP stressed that: "One of the major factors contributing to the rise of the SRB imbalance in Viet Nam is strong son preference, which has deep cultural roots and gender discrimination against women and girls. We need more efforts to strengthen comprehensive communication activities on the important roles of women and girls in the society".

The imbalanced SRB will affect Viet Nam’s population structure in the future, resulting in an excess of males in society. The consequences are potentially serious: a scarcity of women would increase pressures for them to marry at a younger age and perhaps drop out of school to do so. There may be a rising demand for sex work; and trafficking networks may also expand in response to this imbalance.

Viet Nam has undertaken a number of measures to halt increasing SRB imbalance with the highest political commitment, actions and resources. However, renewed and concerted efforts are now needed, including efforts to address the deeply rooted gender discrimination against women and girls which lies at the heart of sex selection.

More efforts are still required to change the mindset of people, particularly men, towards son preference and behaviours of gender-biased sex selection.  "The heart of the SRB imbalance issue is not sex selection, but the inequality and values. Gender-biased sex selection is exacerbated by patriarchal family values, amplified in particular by male-oriented kinship systems, as well as lack of social and economic autonomy of women.  Therefore, the solution is not to focus on the phenomena, but to address the broader context of socio-economic development and the promotion and protection of human rights to dismantle gender inequality so that the dignity and human rights of every woman, every young person and every individual are achieved. When women and girls have equal access to health care, education, and job opportunities as men and boys do, then they can do what men and boys are expected to do.  Yet, women alone cannot address the issue; it must be done in partnership.  Young men and boys must be encouraged to step forward as agents of necessary social and cultural change." said Mr. Arthur Erken, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam.

Discrimination against girls anywhere in the world is a social ill and a human rights violation, which must be stopped. Girls, like boys, deserve equal love, equal opportunity and equal rights thorough their lives. Gender equality is at the very heart of the country's sustainable development.  

The campaign consists of a series of activities, including workshops, policy dialogues, parades in Ha Noi, Hai Duong and Bac Ninh cities, and communication activities via mass and social media with nationwide coverage.

Regardless who you are, where you are from, your age, region, occupation and gender, you can join hands to say NO to pre-natal sex selection. Every small action counts and contributes to a society of equality, respect and love.

For further information, please contact:
Ms Nguyen Thi Hong Thanh
UN Communications
Tel: (84-4) 3822 4383 – Ext: 117
Mob: 091 309 3363
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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