The prevailing son preference attitude in Bangladesh and the consequent undervaluing of women and girls need to be addressed proactively with accelerated efforts as these issues have potential to significantly affect the country’s social and demographic scenario in the coming days, said experts in a workshop.
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 Monday and Tuesday, said a press release.
The workshop observed that the repercussions of son preference and the consequent undervaluing of girls affects women and girls even before they are born and follows them throughout the course of their life.
Experts said that although Gender Biased Sex Selection is not prevalent in Bangladesh at this point, the situation may turn into an alarming concern in view of the grave situation created out of rampant use of sex detection technology, which has been the case in some of the neighbouring countries.
Low fertility, a skewed sex ratio at birth and use of sex-detection technology – the three preconditions of Gender Biased Sex Selection, which might translate into an alarming 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 percent of men had the same.
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 by 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.
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.