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Female Infanticide still in Practice! Apart from being Educated, women also need to be Empowered, to end Son preference
Mount Abu, December 21, 2016: I wouldn’t be around to write this story if the Bahri clan I hail from – Hindus from that part of Punjab which is now in Pakistan – had not stopped practising female infanticide in the early 1900s, with my grandparents generation. But a century on, the practice appears to have hit an all-time high.
Latest figures show that at 914, India’s child sex ratio – a better marker of son preference than the overall sex ratio – is at its lowest since 1951.
This is despite the fact that female literacy in India has soared to 65.46 per cent as per Census 2011 and should have resulted in greater gender parity in the child sex ratio.
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This implies that female literacy alone is not enough to improve the sex ratio as is commonly assumed and suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (save daughter, educate daughter) campaign.
As Part 1 of the series (In India, as income rises, fewer girls are born/December 20, 2016) pointed out, the educated are more likely to afford sex-selective abortions.
The bias against daughters can only end if women’s education is accompanied by social and economic empowerment, concluded a study conducted over a period of 30 years in Gove, Maharashtra, by Carol Vlassoff, a professor at the University of Ottawa.
Education is not changing gender norms
“Not only is it impossible to achieve gender equality without education, expanding education opportunities for all can help stimulate productivity and reduce the economic vulnerability of poor households,” the UN said about the role of education in achieving gender equality, in its 2013 report, Making Education a Priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
But statistics in India do not bear out the UN’s assumptions. Young graduate mothers gave birth to 899 girls per 1,000 boys, lower than the national average of 943, IndiaSpend reported in May 2016.
In Haryana, the female literacy rate has risen 25 percentage points over 20 years, to touch 65 per cent in 2011, and it is still known for its low sex ratio, IndiaSpend reported in November 2015.
“Education of women is clearly not enough to change preference for sons, a pervasive deep-seated social expectation,” said Priya Nanda, group director, Social and Economic Development, International Center for Research on Women, Asia Regional Office. “While education does give women abilities, changing gender norms requires other complementary efforts.”
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The right to choose is as important as a degree
Netra Jangam, 24, from Gove village in Satara district, in western Maharashtra, holds a postgraduate degree in commerce. Her mother had studied only upto seventh grade.
Jangam did more than arm herself with a degree: She made the most of the freedom to travel – something her parents agreed to – and make independent decisions. “I pursued my higher studies in nearby Satara, living with relatives, visiting my parents at the weekends. Living away from home taught me to manage myself and broadened my thinking. My mother hardly ever travelled out of the village before marriage,” she said.
Her mother earned some money from taking on small tailoring jobs and this had helped her realise the value of financial independence. “So she supported my decisions. I made it clear to my husband that I would always work after marriage. I always want to be financially independent,” said Jangam.
Given the high cost of living, she wants only one child – “it doesn’t matter if it is a girl or a boy”-and is confident her husband will support her decision. “I am not having a child to depend on in my old age; we will invest for our future.”
Gender perceptions linked to empowerment
Education, travel, the freedom to grow and make decisions, and the opportunity to use education just like men are the key ingredients for changing gender perceptions, not education or economic development alone or jointly, Vlassoff and others concluded in their 2014 Asian Population Journal study, Economic Development, Women’s Social and Economic Empowerment and Reproductive Health in Rural India.
“Social empowerment-an outcome of education, mobility (travel related) and the freedom to make decisions-and economic empowerment-symbolised by a woman’s employment status-have a greater impact on a woman’s reproductive health-including the number of daughters she is prepared to have in the hope of having a son-than economic development-quantified by family asset ownership,” said Vlassoff.
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In her study, Vlassoff saw great changes in Gove’s social empowerment indicators: 58 per cent of women had eight or more years of schooling in 2008, compared to only 8 per cent of the 1975 respondents; 65 per cent of respondents travelled to the district capital at least once a month in 2008, compared to only 25 per cent in 1975.
The impact of all this: 86 per cent women were willing to stop trying for a son after three daughters in 2008 versus only 24 per cent in 1975.
“The more socially empowered respondents were, the more likely they were willing to stop at fewer children,” said Vlassoff. To trigger social change, she added, “it is important for more women to take up formal employment to gain confidence and independence, start thinking for themselves and standing up for their beliefs”. (IANS)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)