New Delhi, July 11: Among the major causes of the growing population in the world such as poverty, illiteracy etc, gender inequality has been one of the main reasons why some countries haven’t been able to progress in curbing the population on their part. India, for example, is one of the most densely populated countries in the world where gender inequality has significantly contributed to it being the second most populous countries in the world. India has a population of 1.31 billion. China tops the list with 1.38 billion.

Discrimination against women and the desire to have a male child in India has been infected India for a long time. Considering the fact that the Indian families are significantly larger if a son is not born as a son in India is considering to be the sole means of support and women, an economic burden, the families end up with more kids than they can feed. At one point in time, it became one of the major concerns contributing significantly to the growing population in India. Let’s see how gender discrimination has been adding to the population of the world, especially India.

Preference for a male child

In India, a son is considered to be the one who will carry on the family name as women are the ones who have to leave their parents’ home and adopt their spouse’s name after marriage. Their net value is higher than the daughters. In India, sons are believed to be the ones who take care of their parents in old age as women have to leave their homes and adopt the house of their husbands as their own after marriage. Considering how sons are given preference over daughters, the families end up begetting more children till they fulfill their desires to have a specific number of sons in their families.

Also the fact that India has been gripped with the tradition of dowry. Women are considered an economic burden due to dowry and their marriage expenses. A study read that the preference for a son was higher among the illiterate families and women than the educated families. According to the study, preference for sons in rural was 94.3 per cent than urban areas (80.3%) in western regions of India. The population grows alarmingly in the backdrop of this preference of begetting sons.

This became an even more of an issue when the diagnostic ultrasound technology became available in India in the 1980s which let people have a prenatal determination of sex. Sex determination significantly contributed to families deciding on abortions in the case of a female child till they have a son and then, more sons. The study also found that couples who desire to have smaller families but have preference for a male child end up aborting female foetuses.

Early marriages also add to the overpopulation. In many parts of India and Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are married off at an early age, right after they start menstruating. The younger the bride, the longer the child bearing age and hence, more population. According to a study, approximately 39 per cent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18. Child marriage is widespread in West and Central Africa (42%) as well as Eastern and Southern Africa (36%). According to UNICEF, if the child marriages aren’t stopped now, the girls married as children will double by 2050.