A campaign has been jointly launched by the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam, in an effort to better cope with the country’s alarming sex imbalance at birth.
The campaign, called “No Sex Discrimination or Fetus Gender Selection,” was kicked-start on Saturday to step up attempts to avert people’s selection of fetus gender and sex imbalance at birth, and to address the gaping sex ratio compared to one and a half decades ago.
According to Pham Le Tuan, Deputy Minister of Health, Vietnam’s sex ratio at birth of baby boys over girls was 112.4/100 in 2014.
The rate has skyrocketed since 2000, when the country first experienced its sex imbalance at birth, at 106.2/100 then.
The current ratio in 53 out of 63 provinces and cities is 108/100, Deputy Minister Tuan noted.
The number of localities having the proportion of more than 115 baby boys jumped from 10 in 2009 to 16 last year, local newswire VnExpress reported.
The rate is now at its worst in the northern province of Quang Ninh, at 124.4/100, followed by that in Hung Yen, Hai Duong, Bac Ninh and Nam Dinh, also located in the north, the newswire noted.
VnExpress cited Deputy Minister Tuan as telling the launch ceremony on Saturday that a strong cultural preference for sons and the practice of sex selection, which are both deeply rooted in the male-oriented kinship system in Vietnam, are the reasons for the worrying sex imbalance at birth.
Ritsu Nacken, a UNFPA representative, said that the Southeast Asian country needs urgent, concerted efforts by competent agencies, families, schools, and the entire community instead of focusing solely on banning pre-natal ultrasound tests or gender-based abortion, the newswire reported.
Students at a middle school in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
She also advised that the legal framework related to gender equality should be improved to better correct residents’ mindset and behavior when it comes to the issue.
Also at the launch ceremony, representatives of many healthcare facilities signed their written pledge not to provide pre-natal sex diagnosis or carry out gender selection, according to VnExpress.
Scores of activities as part of the campaign – including a photo storytelling competition, “Con Gai That Tuyet” (Being a Girl is Cool), on social networks, will also be organized to convey messages that boys and girls are both equally entitled to love, care, protection, and life opportunities.
Experts have warned that Vietnam will have begun facing consequences arising from a serious gender imbalance, with men increasingly outnumbering women, by 2025.
Without proper measures to reverse the trend, two to four million men in marriage age will be unlikely to find wives by that year, they noted.
In the long run, the shortage of females might also lead to mounting pressure on young girls and their families in getting married prematurely, and fuel trafficking of women for prostitution.
At a press conference in 2013, the Ministry of Health said that Vietnam should invest in projects aimed at easing sex imbalance at birth by 2020.
These projects include one to give a number of benefits to parents who have two daughters and who comply with the policy that every family should have no more than two children.
The benefits consist of a payment to a family that has a second daughter and support in the form of school tuition and health insurance for both daughters when they grow up.