Falling Gender Ratio and Ways to Prevent the Decline in Numbers of Women

While the gender ratio was hovering around 930-950 throughout the earlier decades when there were fewer women than men as a statistical fact, this has become more alarming in recent years because the number is falling rapidly.

When taken together with the overall increase in population of India that has a large percentage of young people, this indicates that there are fewer young women than men which have implications for business, society, and the future of the country. After all, imagine a world without women or where there are fewer women than men, and then think about the consequences for the country. Thus, the subsequent discussion focuses on this topic of falling gender ratios and what it means for the various stakeholders.

The Falling Gender Ratio and its Implications

There have been several alarming reports in recent months about the declining gender ratio or the number of women to the number of men for every thousand counted. Historically, India has always had a skewed gender ratio with more men than women have and though this trend has been the case for several decades now, the warning signs have multiplied in recent years. This is because of the fact that the gender ratio has fallen to below 900 women per 1000 men in some Northern Indian states like Punjab and Haryana as well as Rajasthan. The cause for concern among policymakers is very real as this disturbing piece of statistic means that we would soon reach a point where there would be implications for development, marriage, and the status of women in India.

The Consequences of a World without Women

Imagine a world without enough women and the first thought that strikes us is how men would find women of marriageable age to start their families. Indeed, as some documentaries made by eminent sociologists and activists show, we would soon reach a nightmare scenario where multiple men would have to marry the same woman.

Further, the skewed gender ratio also means that we have to contend with issues arising out of an imbalance in societal functions that has grave portends for the future.

Apart from this, the falling gender ratio would mean that it would be a crime to be born as a woman. Already, women in India are treated badly and this falling gender ratio would reflect in the worsening attitudes towards women across the country. This is the reason why many experts are demanding urgent action to reverse this trend and calling upon the government and civil society to take steps to mitigate this social problem.

Tackling Falling Gender Ratios through Changes in Societal Attitudes towards Women

Any approach to tackle the falling gender ratio would have to take into consideration the fact that societal attitudes towards women must change. There is no point in talking about the skewed gender ratio if families continue to go for sex determination tests and engage in female feticide and female infanticide.

These sex selective measures mean that families across the country would indulge in barbaric practices that would further cause the gender ratio to plummet. The best way to tackle this would be to not only ban such practices (which is already in vogue) but also to ensure that the law enforcers are sufficiently trained and sensitized to women’s issues so that they nip such practices in the bud.

Further, the judicial system and the bureaucrats on the ground must be sensitized to this problem and must be encouraged to act against the perpetrators even if they are the high and the mighty.

Implications for Businesses and Society

When there are fewer women than men, then businesses would have to forego the diversity of their workforce which means that they would not benefit from having a pluralistic perspective since research has shown that when the workforce is diverse, businesses tend to benefit because of the various innovations and multiplicity of opinions.

Further, any country that does not encourage diversity in the workforce tends to lose out in the economic as well as the social spheres. Already, research has shown that there are fewer women on the boards of major companies which are a cause for concern. Thus, it is indeed in the interest of businesses to push for arresting the falling gender ratio.

How “We” Collectively can take action

India has a serious problem on its hands with regards to the falling gender ratio and it is high time we collectively do something about it. The word “we” in this context is especially pertinent as each and every one of us can do a bit to redress this problem.

The next time you witness a covert or an overt harassment of women, be sure to raise your voice and help the victim instead of blaming her for not dressing “appropriately”, or justifying the harassment in the name of patriarchy and the Indian way of life.

In conclusion, unless we act together in this regard, the nightmarish scenarios portrayed in some critical documentaries would come true and we no longer can call ourselves a civilized or a developing nation let alone a developed one. The ball is in our court and it is up to us to rise to the occasion.


India Brand Equity Foundation http://www.ibef.org

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