The prevailing son preference attitude in Bangladesh, and the consequent undervaluing of women and girls have the potential to significantly affect the country’s social and demographic scenario in the coming days unless these issues are addressed proactively with accelerated efforts, experts have said.
They expressed this concern at a workshop on Tuesday saying that although Gender Biased Sex Selection is not prevalent in Bangladesh at this point, the situation could, however, turn into an alarming concern if it is not addressed in due time, which has been the case in some of the neighbouring countries.
Low fertility, son preference and availability of sex selection technology – the three preconditions of Gender Biased Sex Selection, which might translate into a decrease in female to male ratio, as explained by demographers – are prevailing in Bangladesh.
A 2019 study, conducted by the University of Dhaka, found that about 28 per cent of women from a representative sample had a son preference for their first child, while 24 per cent of men had the same.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Bangladesh in collaboration with Concerned Women for Family Development (CWFD) organised the two-day ‘Orientation Workshop for Media on the Positive Portrayals of Women and Girls in Bangladesh’ at Brac CDMA in Rajendrapur, Gazipur on June 20-21.
Md. Zashim Uddin, Director General of the Mass Communication Department of Government of Bangladesh, who was present as the chief guest in the closing session of the workshop, said, “Much of the credit behind the significant advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Bangladesh goes to the thriving media in Bangladesh. We will accelerate our communication efforts adopting innovative approaches to address the issues of son preference and undervaluing of women and girls.”
“Despite the improvements in society, the problems of gender-based violence continue to persist. However, we are committed to building a Bangladesh that is safe and empowering for all women and girls and we will continue to strive for it,” he added.
The workshop observed that the repercussions of son preference and the consequent undervaluing of girls affect women and girls even before they are born and it continues throughout the course of their life.
More than 25 media professionals from different forms of media, including newspapers, television channels, radio stations, news agencies, online portals and advertising agencies and youth representatives, took part in the workshop.