It is over 20 years since Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen brought this problem to the world’s attention. Today though, women and girls continue to be killed, aborted and abandoned solely on the basis of their gender.
Sickeningly, the UN estimates that today the number of “missing” women and girls has reached around 200 million.
But where are these missing women and girls?
Domestic violence, including honour and dowry killings, is one major cause of gender related deaths. A World Health Organisation study of 7 countries found that between 40% – 70% of female murder victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
Girls are often neglected in terms of access to food and medicine in comparison to their male counterparts. In South Asia for example, girls are less likely than boys to be immunised against vaccine preventable diseases.
Despite being forbidden by law, female infanticide and sex selective abortion remain common in countries including China and India. These two practices are highlighted in the trailer of what looks like it will be a hard hitting documentary. One of the most scarring scenes shows a woman talking with apparent indifference about killing 8 of her new born baby girls.
Death can often be the result of a lack of access to medical care following gender specific operations such as female genital mutilation and unsafe abortion. Lack of adequate care during and after pregnancy is another cause of mortality amongst (pregnant) women.
These are just some of the ways in which women and girls are killed, aborted or die, simply for being born with the “wrong” gender.
They are not reasons though.
The real reason behind the loss of these women and girls is the inherent inequality that continues to value men above women in societies.