Sex imbalance at birth, with more boy than girls being born, is creating many negative social impacts, especially gender inequality, in Vietnam, social experts warned. The warning was released at the seminar on “Solutions to address sex imbalance at birth” held by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on June 12. According to a report at the event, the ratio of male/female newborns in Vietnam is 1,000:914, while 30 years ago it was 1,000:962. It is expected that in 2050, the number of men in Vietnam will be 2.3-4.3 million more than that of women. Last year the average sex ratio of newborns in Vietnam was 112.3 males to 100 females, but in some localities, the ratio reached 130 males to 100 females, and the discrepancy is rising.
The most serious sex imbalance is seen in two age groups: elderly people and children. In the first group, there are 1.5 elderly men for every one old woman, while male children also outnumber females.
At a national workshop on gender imbalance organized by the Ministry of Health held last November in Hanoi, 45 of the 63 provinces in Vietnam reported that their local sex ratios at birth were becoming increasingly imbalanced in favor of males.Impacts and solutions According to Nguyen Thi Van Anh, deputy head of Social Research and Development Institute, a shortage of women in a society will lead to a situation in which women tend to get married early while men will face more difficulty in seeking their life partner. In addition, sex imbalance will also trigger an increase in sex trade and sexual aggression, and an expansion of women trafficking networks. Sex imbalance at birth is caused by the long-standing habit of preferring men to women and the less respect for women’s role in society. Therefore, improving gender equality and enhancing the position of women and girls is one of the important solutions to easing sex imbalance. Deputy Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Nguyen Thanh Hoa blamed the sex imbalance on the long-standing conception of valuing men above women and the discrimination against women and girls. “Propaganda on the role of women and measures to strengthen their role should be strengthened to help reduce the imbalance,” he said. Tran Thi Van, who is in charge of the UNFPA Office in Vietnam, said, “Vietnam should further promote the role of women and girls in society, and help them become aware of their positions and rights.” Young men and boys, Van said, should be encouraged to join the promotion, since they are significant factors that help change social prejudices against women. She also said political leaders and Party members also play an important role in the process of creating gender equality. Many delegates at the event agreed with Van and added that the media play a major role in the process. They recognized that Vietnam has taken many measures to drive back sex imbalance, but concerned agencies and social organizations should make more coordination efforts in dealing with the problem. The most important thing to do is to eliminate the discrimination against women and girls, which is the main reason for the selection of sex before birth among a part of the population, they said. In a related news, the Health Ministry in February proposed that the State budget earmark about VND3 trillion (US$144.23 million) on projects that help reduce the imbalance of sex at birth in the 2013-2020 period.