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Population Control for both China and India can be better achieved by Empowering Women, says acclaimed Journalist

Chinese and Indian societies, both of which are patriarchal, must realise that marriage and giving birth to babies (preferably male) is not the sole purpose of women

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Jaipur, Jan 27, 2017: Population control, a vital goal for both China and India, can be better achieved by empowering women instead of coercive methods like Beijing’s “one-child” drive, says acclaimed journalist Mei Fong who has extensively studied the policy and its deleterious demographic and economic effects.

“Chinese and Indian societies, both of which are patriarchal, must realise that marriage and giving birth to babies (preferably male) is not the sole purpose of women, nor desirable early.

“Allowing women choice as to their education, jobs and methods of contraception is more viable for controlling population, rather than forced and ‘quick-fix’ methods like sterilisation, abortions and quotas,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning Malayasian Chinese-American journalist told IANS in an interview.

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Fong, who covered China for the Wall Street Journal and has authored “One Child: The Past and Future of China’s Most Radical Experiment” (One World/Pan Macmillan, 2016), listed the several severe and unwelcome outcomes of the policy, begun in 1979 as China under Deng Xiaoping tried to accelerate economically.

“It has led to a severe gender imbalance… there are many ‘villages of bachelors’ across China, there is lack of care for the elderly, and a falling birth rate, which will impact on the workforce China needs to remain a low-cost global manufacturing hub,” said Fong, who addressed a session at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2017.

Then the “Little Emperors”, or boys who were born under the policy — with Chinese no less keen than Indians on a male child — have a different mindset, she said. “They have received so much adoration… this can stifle innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Their parents, keen to get them a good match, have got them apartments to increase their attraction, leading to an artificial high in urban estate prices throughout China, she added.

On the other hand, though the lesser number of women are eagerly sought after, this has not made a difference in their status.

“The laws of economics do not work in a patriarchal system… women are more valuable, but not valued. They have been commodified and this fuels sex trafficking.”

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Though Chinese authorities had relaxed the policy as her book was getting ready in 2015 and now had a two-children norm, “women’s fertility was not a tap that could be turned off and on” and it was going to take long for the adverse effects to be mitigated, Fong told IANS.

It has led to a “strange role reversal” where the Chinese are going to America for babies, since it has better medical facilities and allows surrogate parenting.

She also cited the traumatic and bizarre circumstances that she had come across while researching the book, including a woman who was one of the “population police” reporting illicit pregnancies and involved in almost 1,500 forcible abortions including third in late stages of pregnancy, but herself having only a daughter and needing to adopt a son.

“This woman now lives abroad in hiding and her favourite pastime is giving candy to children,” she said.

She also recounted the case of a Chinese company once making furniture but now not finding it viable and switching to making full-size sex dolls. “They ship them out in coffin-like boxes… it is creepy,” she said.

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Fong also told IANS that there were many other “explosive stories” of traumatic experiences of the one-child policy, which she faulted as being based on a “faulty mindset” of all men deciding a policy for women, and going on so long without a course correction.

“They thought women’s fertility was a machine that could be speeded up or down… whether more humane policies, though taking a little longer, but less coercive, would have achieved the same purpose with lesser side-effects,” she said, adding the worst is that is that it was not the policy, but relaxing of socialist controls, that led to China’s economic boom.

“Government social policies can work. The problem is when fast results are sought,” said Fong. (IANS)

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Gobal Care Crisis Rises Along With Growing Population

The report finds the majority of care globally is done by unpaid caregivers

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An elderly Chinese woman accompanied by her caregiver walks down a tree lined lane in Changchun in northeastern China's Jilin province, Aug. 27, 2010.
An elderly Chinese woman accompanied by her caregiver walks down a tree lined lane in Changchun in northeastern China's Jilin province, Aug. 27, 2010. VOA

The International Labor Organization (ILO) says urgent action is needed to avert a global crisis as the number of people, including children and elderly, needing care rises, The warning is part of a new ILO report on care work and care jobs unveiled Thursday in Geneva.

The ILO cautions that the global care crisis will become a reality in coming years without a doubling of investment. Authors of the report say $5.5 trillion was spent in 2015 on education, health and social work. They say that amount must be increased to $18.4 trillion by 2030 to prevent the care system from falling apart.

The report finds the majority of care globally is done by unpaid caregivers, mostly women and girls, and that it is a major barrier preventing women from getting paid jobs. It says this reality not only hampers their economic opportunities, but stifles development prospects.

Lead author Laura Addati tells VOA 606 million women, compared to 41 million men, are unable to get paid employment because they have to care for a family member.

“This pool of participants who are lost to the labor force could be activated, … [put in] jobs that could benefit society. A part of these jobs could be career [caregiver] jobs, so as we well pointed out, there could be basically an activation process to sort of replace some of those jobs, so making those who were unpaid, paid care workers,” she said.

A deaf-blind woman (R) is led by a caregiver at Santa Angela de la Cruz Center in Salteras, near Seville, Spain, June 6, 2011.
A deaf-blind woman (R) is led by a caregiver at Santa Angela de la Cruz Center in Salteras, near Seville, Spain, June 6, 2011. VOA

Addati says more people nowadays are part of nuclear families, eroding the concept of extended households, which used to play an important role in caring for family members. She says that is increasing the demand for more caregivers in smaller households.

The report finds that more than 380 million people globally are care workers. It says two-thirds are women. In Europe, the Americas and Central Asia, three-quarters of all care workers are women. The report notes long-term care services are practically non-existent in most African, Latin American and Asian countries.

Also read: International Migrants Day & global migrant crisis

The ILO says about 269 million jobs could be created if investment in education, health and social work were doubled by 2030, easing the global care crisis. (VOA)