Kirsty McCurdy

Surrogate mothers pose for a photograph inside a temporary home for surrogates provided by Akanksha IVF centre in Anand town

Surrogate mothers (L-R) Daksha, 37, Renuka, 23, and Rajia, 39, pose for a photograph inside a temporary home for surrogates provided by Akanksha IVF centre in Anand town, about 70 km (44 miles) south of the western Indian city of Ahmedabad August 27, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal (source:

– Kirsty McCurdy (LLB Law, Newcastle University)

This post was first published on Inherently Human: Critical Perspectives on Law Gender and Sexuality

Recently, the United Nations has created its first ever study into measuring the gender inequality and women’s environmental arena around the world. The index known as EGI – the Environment and Gender Index – ranks 72 counties in terms of how the countries actually make gender and environment mandates into national policy.  India has one of the worst gender differentials in child mortality of any country, ranking 132 out of 148 nations.

It is not surprising, given worldwide attention to the fatal rape case in Delhi that India is among one of the weakest performers on this index. Indeed, gender bias is seemingly rife in certain areas, as the British medical journal Lancet reported that estimated 12million female foetuses were aborted in the past three decades. The practice happens for a number of reasons: boys are seen as being good luck, and many families find that bearing a girl will impose a financial burden upon the family. This is due to the tradition of dowry, a tradition that is actually illegal but is still widely practiced acrossIndia. In dowry, when a woman has an arranged marriage, monetarial assets or property from the bride’s family are given to the groom as a kind of ‘bridal gift.’ This is why some families believe it is financially advantageous to bear a boy instead.

There still exists a law in Goathat allows men to marry a second wife if there is no son from the first marriage.  Indeed, Kirti Singh, a lawyer and author of the UN study entitled ‘The Law and Son Preference in India: A Reality Check’, stated that a lack of political will mean many progressive laws are not enforced. Other laws are even blatantly discriminatory and encourage the view that a male child is more valuable.

However, there have been initiatives that have sought to change attitudes towards woman and female babies. In regard to women, in the Southern State of Kerala, “She-Taxi’s” have been set up, to allow women only to conduct their own taxi businesses, to make it safer for women to travel around as well. It is a commendable scheme, hoping to empower woman and promote entrepreneurship. Perhaps this will slowly change society’s view that women are not as valuable as men, as this scheme shows they are capable of working equally as hard as men in society.

Lastly, there has also been a charity that has endeavoured to change negative attitudes towards having female babies. The initiative involves compiling boxes with various presents for a new-born baby, visiting families in hospitals where the mother has just given birth to a new-born baby girl and giving these gifts to the family and congratulating them on their new-born baby girl. This is a really charming idea of how to spread the love for newly-born girls. Hopefully, this attitude to love girls just as equally as boys will spread throughoutIndiaand gender bias will no longer be an issue. Here is a video of the charity in action: –