Since in all societies’ discrimination on the basis of sex often starts at the earliest stages of life greater equality for the girl child is necessary first step in ensuring that women realize their full potential and become equal partners in development. In a number of countries, the practice of pre-natal sex selection, higher rates of morality among young girls, and lower rates of school enrolment for girls as compared with boys, suggest that “son preference” is the curtailing the access of girl children to food, education and health care. This is often compounded by the increasing use of technologies to determine fetal sex, resulting in abortion of female fetuses. Investments made in the girl child’s health, nutrition and education, from infancy through adolescence, are critical.
Governments are urged to take the necessary measures to prevent infanticide, pre-natal sex selection, trafficking in girl children and use of girls in prostitution and pornography.
Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child and the root causes of son preference, which results in harmful and unethical practices such as pre-natal sex selection and female infanticide; this is often compounded by the increasing use of technologies to determine fetal sex, resulting in abortion of female fetuses.
Government should give priority to developing programs and policies that foster norms and attitude of zero tolerance for harmful and discriminatory attitudes, including son preference, which can result in harmful and unethical practices such as pre-natal sex selection, discrimination and violence against the girl child and all forms of violence against women, including female genital mutilation, rape, incest, trafficking, sexual violence and exploitation. This entails developing an integrated approach that addresses the need for widespread social, cultural and economic change, in addition to legal reforms. The girl child’s access to health, nutrition, education and life opportunities should be protected and promoted. The role of family members, especially parents and other legal guardians, in strengthening the self-image, self esteem and status and in protecting the health and well being of girls should be enhanced and supported.