Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hidden gendercide

The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces has published a new book called "Women in an Insecure World". I haven't read the book, just the summary, but it has a horrifying catalogue of all the different ways in which women can be damaged in today's world.

It starts with an eyecatching headline - Hidden Gendercide - which has my middle class eyes rolling at the drama.

But then the next statistic - that there are more than 200 million women and girls "demographically missing" in the world today - that is that if you look at all of the women who should be alive today given the ratio of boys to girl at birth, there are around 200 million "missing", shows that there are no drama queens writing this report. That implies that 1.5 million to 3 million girls or women each year die for some cause related to their gender.

The catalogue of ways in which those 200 million women and girls have disappeared is comprehensive:

- gender specific abortion and infanticide - the ratio of girls to boys at birth in China is 100:119, rather than the biologically normal 100:103
- not receiving as much food as their brothers, fathers and husbands - women comprise more than two thirds of the 2.5 billion people in the world categorised as "poor"
- domestic violence - globally women between the ages of 15 to 44 are more likely to be injured or die from male violence than cancer, traffic accidents, malaria and war combined.
- complications from pregnancy and childbirth - 585,000 women die every year

It's a depressing litany, and one which required a huge amount of research to put together. The main recommendations seem pretty sensible

Prevention - awareness raising and research of statistics (particularly collecting gender separated statistics on violence)
Protection - through law and institutions
Empowerment - through education and participation in decision making.

My actuarial brain loves the idea of more statistics, and my female heart sinks at the struggles most of the women in the world have just to live.


At 9:16 am, Blogger Tjilpi said...

That's a huge public health problem. I was not previously aware of such numbers.


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