China: One child – one student
By now, nearly half of all Chinese students are female.Government support, economic growth and the one-child policy haveall contributed to an almost equal gender ratio at Chineseuniversities, explain researchers at Harvard.
This development is quite staggering given that women made upmerely 24,2% of the student population in 1978. India, one ofChina’s rivals to become the next economic superpower, meanwhilelacks behind with a share of 37,6% female students.
No siblings and no rivalry
Observers attribute part of this phenomenon to the Chineseone-child policy, that was introduced in 1979 to limit explosivepopulation growth. As more and more families featured only onechild, all their hopes and resources went into it – which was alsothe case for girls.
Vanessa Fong, Harvard professor and China family policy expert,comments that “[now, girls] have basically gotten everything thatused to only go to the boys.” Consequently, the often criticizedone-child policy had a positive impact on equal rights.
Criticism of immoral one-child policy
Critics, however, point out that the trend of shrinking familieswhich was enforced by the government could have also been achievedwithout this policy. Statistics show that generally economic growthleads to lower birth rates and therefore greater opportunities forgirls.
Another phenomenon that went hand in hand with the one-childpolicy was the rise in gender-selective abortion. In China’ssociety boys are more popular as they carry on the family name andearn more money later on.
Given that they could have only one child, more and more Chineseparents decided to abort once it was determined that the fetus wasa girl. Last year, the United Nations reported that 43 milliongirls had ‘disappeared’ in that way.