Monday, August 23, 2004

Care for Girls

This is China's new policy program trying to combat the preference for boys which has led to all sorts of horrors as well as over thirty million eternal bachelors:

This past Wednesday, the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China announced a nation-wide pilot program aimed at correcting China's traditional bias for male children. BBC News reports that the program, entitled "Care for Girls," will offer cash and other incentives to families who have daughters. Other perks for families with daughters include exemption from schooling fees, insurance until their daughters are adults and further housing, employment and welfare privileges, according to Reuters.

The pilot program is primarily targeted at rural states where the ratio of boys to girls is extremely high. While China's national average is 117 boys to 100 girls, in southern provinces such as Hainan and Guandong the ratio is now 130 boys to 100 girls, reports BBC News. Many families in China traditionally prefer sons as they are seen as more able to provide for the family, support their elderly family and carry on the family line. Due to China's one-child policy, parents may give up daughters for adoption, abort female fetuses, or resort to infanticide. It is unclear exactly why the ratio is dramatically higher in the rural regions, although likely factors are poverty and laborious farming.

Will it work? We'll see. But I'm not very hopeful given that the alternative policy (in terms of male inheritance rights and marrying daughters away) has been in operation for millennia. At least this program needs to be allowed to run for a few generation for there to be any discernible difference, though I very much doubt that this would happen.

Isn't it funny how in general we condemn programs that try to increase the status of women if they have not worked within, say, thirty years? I'm thinking of all the "feminism has failed" articles that I have read, or the argument that if women are not now equal in numbers in all the top positions, well, it must be that women are just inherently uninterested in power. After all, they have been free to try for the top ladders a decade or two... Yet the alternative policies were allowed to have thousands of years without much criticism at all. Ah well, this is my viper tongue post of the week.