The General Department of Population and Family Planning and the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched a campaign on joining hands to resolve sex ratio at birth imbalance on September 23 in Hanoi in response to International Day of the Girl Child (October 11).
There is much evidence in Asia and Vietnam showing that gender imbalance at birth is principally attributable to the selection of fetal sex by gender preconception and misconception of valuing men above women have rooted in cultural notions.
These longstanding misconceptions have created great pressure on women who must have at least a male child which adversely affect their economic and social status, reproductive and sexual life and survival alike.
Sex ratio at birth imbalance will also impact the structure of Vietnam's population in the future, leading to excess of males in the society. The long- term consequences are serious as the lack of women will increase pressure on girls enforcing them to marry earlier or quit school for their marriage. Additionally, there might be increases in prostitution and trafficking of women.
A score of measures have been carried out in Vietnam with a view to alleviating the increasing sex ratio at birth imbalance by raising public awareness of the corollary of the sex imbalance and strengthening law enforcement pertaining to prohibition of fetal sex selection.
However, it is imperative to intensify inter-agency coordination mechanisms and the participation of social organizations and maximize efforts to resolve discrimination against women and girls which is the main cause of sex selection before birth.
More efforts should be made to change people's perceptions of son preference and fetal sex-selective behavior particularly the notion of men and boys.
In his speech at the launch of the campaign, UNFPA Chief Representative in Vietnam Arthur Erken
credited the crux of the matter to gender inequality and despised women value.
Therefore, the better solution is not focused on solving the phenomenon but it should be resolved in the wider context of socio-economic development and human rights to eliminate gender inequality and ensure human dignity and human rights of every individual, women and children, he stressed.
The International Day of the Girl Child initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide.
The idea for an international day of observance and celebration grew out of Plan International's Because I Am a Girl campaign, which raises awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally in developing countries in particular.
Plan International representatives in Canada approached the Canadian federal government to seek support for the initiative.