China Creates “Care for Girls” Program to Counter Gender Bias

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.

BBC News reports that by 2020 it is estimated that China could have more than 30 million bachelors if serious moves are not made to correct the gender imbalance.

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BBC News 8/12/04, China View 8/12/04, CNS News 7/19/04, Reuters 8/12/04

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