Son Preference and Skewed Sex Ratios: Contradictory Socio-Economic Changes and Effective Policy Formulation
Indian Institute of Technology, India
The Government of India in its recent Economic Survey noted that India is progressing on fourteen out of seventeen indicators of women’s agency, attitudes and outcomes. There has been an increase in literacy levels, greater female workforce participation and a decline in fertility. However, despite all these positive changes, one indicator that has only worsened over time is India’s skewed child sex ratio. A preference for sons not only manifests itself through the sex selective abortion of girls but also as a meta preference through differential stopping rules (leading to a number of 'unwanted daughters') and a biased allocation of family resources in favour of male children. Numerous policies ranging from cash transfers to schemes for girl’s education have failed to yield results. In this context, the paper makes an attempt to understand the cultural logic behind the devaluation of daughters and questions if the benefits of globalization and consequent changes in economic structure, have accrued only to the male members of the household.
The paper makes use of data from field survey in two villages of Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to a review of the existing literature to identify how family building strategies differ according to the socio-economic relationships people are embedded in. In doing so, the paper seeks to establish what should guide better policies in order to reverse this trend of ‘missing girl children’ while also enhancing their capabilities. The paper also draws comparisons with some policies introduced in various countries of Europe and examines if India can learn from the experience of the west, in terms of effective policies for ensuring greater gender equality.
Who Can Raise 'Good Citizens': Immigration Policies and the Disciplining of Migrant Women's Reproductive Practices
University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Discussing racism and reproductive justice in the US context, Ross (2006) argues that both immigration controls and policies around reproduction are deployed by the government to reinforce an association between citizenship and whiteness. This insight points to how policies around immigration, and those around reproduction, are informed by, and contribute to, discourses around belonging and citizenship. Immigration policies govern who is able to settle in a country, and on what terms. Policies around biological and social reproduction – including regulations determining access to reproductive health care, and other resources important to raising children, like housing – deal with who can, and cannot, be trusted to raise future citizens.
This paper uses a reproductive justice framework to explore the overlap between immigration policies and those around reproduction in the UK context. In particular, I argue that aspects of UK immigration policies can be read as disciplining migrant women’s reproductive practices. Various policies render the right to settle, and access to resources necessary to raise children, contingent on demonstrating that one can raise ‘good’ future citizens. Constructions of the ‘good’ citizen, in turn, are underpinned by mutually co-constitutive racialized, gendered, and neoliberal discourses of belonging. Women are therefore impacted differently depending on their location within these discourses. Applying a reproductive justice framework enables a more in-depth analysis of the racialized, gendered, and neoliberal dynamics underpinning these immigration policies and how they interact and inform each other; and allows us to better understand how they are materially implemented within the context of an expanding internal border regime that targets migrants in locations central to social and biological reproduction, e.g. hospitals, schools, and housing agencies.