Girls Count: Socio-Cultural Context and Policy Responses to Discrimination against the Girl Child in India and China

Rohini P. Pande, Independent Consultant
Priya Nanda, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Lin Tan, Brown University
Fan Wu, Nankai University

India and China have similar social, cultural and historical motivations for son preference and similar policies to address resulting discrimination against girls. Despite opportunities for shared learning, there is limited comparative analysis of the social context and policy experiences across countries. This paper presents such an analysis. We use an innovative combination of individual interviews, published and unpublished research, and information from popular media to examine the similarities and differences in the dynamics, current state and likely future trajectory of discrimination against girls in China and India, and its relationship to other social indicators; the motivations, structure, and effectiveness of policies; their success in addressing the social, cultural and economic context for son preference as well as the resulting discrimination in health against girls; and key lessons learned for each country and across countries. We suggest methodologies for a more systematic evaluation of policies and describe replicable best practices.

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Presented in Session 113: Cross-National Differences in the Influence of Context on Children's Well-Being