The Concept of Missing Women

In recent years, economics of inequality as a subject has become popular. Gender inequality could be considered as major one among these. Throughout the world, women are vital players in the economy. Over 800 million women are economically active worldwide, undertaking critical roles in industry, agriculture, manufacturing, and services, and as producers, traders, and owners and operators of micro- and small-enterprises. However, as many as 200 million women and girls around the world are demographically “missing” according to the United Nations estimate. Missing women” are those who should be alive when all things are equal to men and women, but aren’t. The inevitable conclusion is that all things are not equal to men and women in some parts of the world”. The concept of missing women was first presented in 1992 by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. He used sex ratios to determine absolute numbers of missing women. He estimated the numbers for each country by calculating how many extra women would be alive were they receiving “similar care” to men.

Sen in his development as freedom indicated that many more 100 million women are missing in these countries, comparing to the ratio on Europe and North America. In Europe and North America the ratio of women to men is around 1. 05 or 1. 06, which means women outnumber men in these regions. However in parts of Asia (mostly south and west and China), north Africa and Latin America the ratio is less than one. The female ration can be low as 0. 95 in Egypt, 0. 94 in Bangladesh, china and west asia, 0. 93 in India or even 0. 0 in Pakistan. Statistically more boys than girls are born and biologically women are considered to be hardier than men which lead to higher survival rate given same care. Then, why mortality rates for female higher than for males in these countries? One could think this is because of relative poverty of these nations. However, Sen noted that, dearth of women is not just because of poverty, because, in Africa there are 2 % of higher women than men. So, the large part of explanation goes to poorer treatment of women.

Differential treatment in common experiences of education, nutrition, and health, especially in childhood health care, hospitalization and even feeding is the principal cause of missing women.. In India because of maternal mortality – more women died in child bearing age. Some other reasons are female infanticide, one child policy in China, sex selective abortion, ect. Mortality differences can serve as an indicator of inequalities in genders. Missing women problem is clearly an aspect of gender inequality. Higher female mortality rate can be considered as capability deprivation of women.

It is also important to see the development problems as deprivations of women that relates to ill health, lack of education, and social exclusion which are the causes of missing women problem. Poverty can be identified in terms of capability deprivation. The deprivation of girls can be easily seen by looking at capability deprivation in terms of greater mortality, morbidity, under nourishment, medical neglect and so on. If we look at aggregate well-being for the development of a country, Sen’s capabilities concept play a role here(Sen, 1999).

Then the important capabilities of longevity and education become crucial component in well-being. Sen has noted that the most basic functioning of well-being, is literally life itself. Thus any reduced achievements for women in these capabilities is intrinsically cause problem for the development of a country. Gender bias in health, education, employment and access to resources appears to have a significant negative impact on economic growth. This leads to child mortality and hinders the expansion of education to the next generation.

This is an important issue to the extent that economic growth furthers the improvement in well-being. Based on Capability approach economic growth, promotes wellbeing, measured through indicators such as longevity, literacy, nutrition, healthcare, political participation, and so on. Sen also cited that “considerable evidence that women’s education and literacy tend to reduce the mortality rates of children” Thus, it could be said, the improvement of women’s position in society is a way by which to increase the overall well-being of society as a whole.

There are large discrepancies in education between the sexes in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. Employment opportunities and pay differ greatly by gender in most developing regions (and some developed ones as well, UNDP, 1995). In some countries, special efforts may be needed to address socially based inequality, such as under schooling of girls relative to boys, or the limited independence of women resulting from lack of access to productive means, or public services. These all can set back economic development. So, if there is more gender equality one would expect economic growth through enhanced well being.

Gender equity could be also considered as a development goal, for example, elimination of all forms of discrimination against women which insist how missing women problem could affect development of a country indirectly. When women are missing in a country the country itself misses women’s’ role all over. Women play an important role in the labor force, both in the financial management of the household and in the labor market, they cultivate food for household consumption, raise and market livestock, generate addition income to the family, ect. ut appear to face a large degree of discrimination. They are severely affected by both monetary and nonmonetary poverty; for example, they have low levels of literacy, are paid lower wages, and have less access to land or equal employment. Development economists see women as vital players in the development. Women have primary responsibilities for child rearing. So, to break the poverty transmission from generation to generation women role in terms of the resources they bring to this task is important.

Mothers tend to spend higher fraction of their income for the benefit of the children. Women also transmit values to the next generation. Also of some studies showed that expansion of basic education of girls earns very highest rates of return of any investment. Discrimination against women is very costly from the standpoint of achieving developing goals. Thus, it is clear that a society should empower and invest on women to make an impact on development. So, more a country miss womens it’s development hinders.

In the long run the low status of women will cause slower rates of economic growth, because the educational attainment and financial status of the children id a reflection of the mothers than those of fathers. So, if women are treated good and equally the benefits of current human capital investments more likely to be passed on to the growth process. So, the mistreatment and missing women problem affect the development of the countries where it is a problem.