On Wednesday, Nobuko Horibe, director of the Asia and Pacific Regional Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) issued a statement before the International Workshop on Prenatal Sex Selection describing the UNFPA's renewed commitment to ending gender-based sex selection and discrimination against women and girls. Horibe pointed out that that gender imbalances contribute to increased sexual violence against women and trafficking.
According to Horibe, there are as many as 117 million "missing" women in Asia, a number which she argued calls for improved gender equality on an international scale. She stated, "We must accelerate our efforts and give priority to developing programs and policies that foster norms and an attitude of 'zero tolerance' for discrimination, harmful attitudes and unethical practices, such as prenatal sex selection. Gender equality is at the very heart of each country's successful development."
Gender-based sex selection remains a persistent problem in South, East, and Central Asian countries. As of June 2011, the sex ratio imbalances continue to grow and can be as skewed as 130 males per every 100 females. By contrast, the normal sex ratio is 102-106 males per every 100 females born. The UNFPA notes that patrilineal inheritance and the reliance on sons for economic support and the performance of death rites contributes to the preference for male children. Sex selection can be performed through "prenatal sex detection and selective abortion, or following birth through infanticide or child neglect."
Media Resources: UNFPA Statement 10/5/11; Feminist Newswire 6/15/2011
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .