http://doi.org/10.33698/NRF0149  – Suresh K Sharma, Bhavna Garg, Nidhi Sagar

Abstract: In India, son preference is very strong and pervasive and has been frequently cited as one of the major obstacle for reducing the national fertility level. Furthermore, gender biasness is considered as one of the major contributing factors of female feticide in Indian communities. This sparked an idea in the researcher’s mind to carryout an exploratory study to assess the gender biasness and expected family size among primigravida women visiting antenatal OPD of DMCH Ludhiana. A structured interview schedule was used for data collection after ensuring the validity and reliability. Findings revealed that 37% expressed the son preference. However, majority of them (69%) wanted to have a small size family i.e. only up to two children. Significantly less number of working women, the women who were from urban area and had higher family income expressed less male child preference over female child (p<0.05). Therefore, it is recommended that there must be increased emphasis on girl education and employment to curb the menace of girl child loss in society and ultimately to establish the equilibrium of male-female child ratio.

Key Words

Attitude, Expected family size, Gender biasness, Primigravida.

Correspondence at:

Dr. Suresh K. Sharma Professor, College of Nursing, DMCH, Ludhiana,

Punjab

Introduction

Gender biasness in India is well documented phenomena and its implication for skewed sex ratio, female foeticide and higher child mortality rate for girls have drawn the attention of researcher and policy makers (Chakarborty CJ, 2005).1 For more than last 100 years, the Indian censes has shown a marked gap between the number of boys and girls, men and women. This gap is actually because of son preference and gender biasness among Indian families. The biasness leads to the inequality and it posses hindrance in the physical, psychological and social development of the girl child.

Previous studies found that a number of cultural, social and economic factors influences the relative benefits and cost of son and daughter and ultimately the gender preference by the parents. In India son is viewed as profitable proposition and the daughter as life time expenses and responsibility. Studies in India have identified three major factors that underline gender biasness, One is economic utility of son i.e. son provide family labour on the farms in rural area, helping in family business, earning wages and supporting parents in old age (Dharmalingam, 1996)2. Secondly, son brings daughter-in-law in his family and provides additional domestic help to his family and also brings dowry in family. Third another important advantage of having son in socio- cultural utility (Dyson and Moore, 1983)3. Finally, the utility of having son arises from the important religious functions that only son can provide. According to Hindu tradition, sons are needed to kindle the funeral pyre of their parents after death and to help in the salvation of their souls.

The sex ratio has been altered consistently in favour of boys since 20th century and resulted in the worst gender ratio in India (927 girls per 1000 boys) and in Punjab (875 to 793 girls per 1000 boys).4 From the mid 1980’s, India and China alone had lost more than 80 million women and girls.5 In an effort to have son, many couples continue to have children after achieving their desired family size. United Nations and similar national and international bodies have framed different laws for women development and to reduce and eliminate the gender biasness in the society but not such perceptible improvement has been achieved so far.6 So, to make any substantial change in parental attitude towards daughters, it is necessary to change the social and economic root of gender biasness. However, before, moving in this direction it is desired to know the extent of perceived gender biasness and expected family size among primigravida women.

Objective

  • To assess the perceived gender biasness and expected family size among primigravida
  • To determine the association of women’s working status and famiy’s economic status with perceived gender biasness among primigravida

Materials, Methods & Results

This exploratory study was conducted on 100 primigravida women visiting antenatal OPD of Dayanand Medical College & Hospital, Ludhiana during the month of Jan-Feb 2011. A total of 789 primigravida women visited the antenatal OPD of DMCH, Ludhiana; out of them 100 primigravida women were selected through convenience sampling technique. The data for study was collected by using structured interview schedule, which composed of three parts. Part-I consisted of 9 socio-demographic variables of primigravida women; Part-II: a 5 point Likert scale comprising of 35 items regarding gender biasness and par t-III comprised of the question regarding expected family size. The maximum score of the Likert scale to assess the gender biasness was 175 and minimum score was 35. Further score above 119 was considered as gender biasness (This considered score was computed from the maximum score obtained by subjects i.e. 168, which was divided by 2 i.e. 84 and added to the minimum score 35 i.e. 119). The content validity of the tools was established by seeking the opinion of five experts from nursing, obstetrics and gynaecology. Total 10 subjects were interviewed to establish the reliability of the data collection tools. The reliability of the tool was computed using split half technique, it was found reliable (r=0.87). Ethical considerations were adequately addressed by seeking an informed consent from participants, maintaining the confidentiality of information and anonymity of the subjects. Furthermore, permissions were obtained from competent authorities for data collection. Data was collected by one of the investigator, who was adequately trained in data collection and women were interviewed in a special designated cabin at antenatal OPD of selected hospital. Each interview took about 8-10 minutes and about 3-5 women were interviewed every day; therefore, data collection lasted for about over a month period. The data was analysed and presented by using descriptive and inferential statistics.

Results

Table 1 depicts the data regarding socio-demographic data of primigravida women. It was revealed that more than half of primigravida women (55%) were in the age group 21-25 years, followed by 26-30 years (37%) and equal number of subjects i.e. 4% was either less then 20 years of age and above the age of 31 years.

Table 1: Socio-demographic characteristics of women            N=100

< 20           04Socio-demographic variables                   Frequency Age (in Years)

21 – 25 55
26 – 30 37
31 – 35

Educational status

04

Up to 10th                                        18

10 + 2                                             25

Graduate                                         37

Postgraduate & above                        20

Occupation

Housewife                                        67

Working                                           33

Habitat

Rural                                               17

Urban                                              83

Religion

Hindu                                              63

Sikh                                              37

Monthly family income (in rupees)

< 5000                                            07

50001 – 10000                                  28

> 10000                                          65

Duration of marital life (in years)

< One                                           37

One – four                                         59

> Four                                            4

 

Furthermore, it was found that more then half of the women (57%) were graduate or above educated and only few of then i.e. 18% were educated up to 10th. Two third of the women were housewife (63%) and rest of then were working women (37%). Majority of the women (83%) were urban dwellers; rest of them were rural dwellers. Two third of them were Hindus (63%) rest of them were Sikhs as per religion. Majority of women has monthly family income above the Rs.10000 and only few of them (7%) had family income less then Rs.7000/month. Two third of the women (63%) were married for more than one year.

expected small family size i.e. up to two children. While on the other hand 31% expected even more then two children in their family.

Socio- demographic variables of women  

Frequency

Biasness Score  

‘Z’/’F’

Values

Mean S.D. df
Occupation          
Housewife 67 133.42 16.04 98 2.734*
Working 33 124.07 16.09    
Family Income          
< 5000 07 130.61 17.04    
5001-10000 28 123.50 16.09 99 6.649*
>10000 65 109.71 15.02    
Habit          
Urban 83 122.88 19.80 98 2.112*
Rural 17 128.03 15.83    

 

Table 2: Association of socio demographic variable and gender biasness among women        N=100

Unbiased, 63%

Biasness

37%

Maximum score = 175; Minimum score = 35

Table 2 illustrated

*Significant at p < o.o5

the information

 

Fig. 1: Perceived gender biasness among women

Fig.1 presented data regarding perceived gender biasness among primigravida women. Surprisingly, it was revealed that 37% expressed preference towards having son in the family. However, 63% women were unbiased and were willing to welcome both the genders equally.

> 2 Child,

31%

Upto 2 Child

69%

Fig. 2: Perceived expected family size among women

Fig .2 depicts the data about perceived expected family size among primigravida women. A microscopic view of pie chart revealed that two third of the women (69%) regarding the association of occupational status and family income of women and gender biasness among primigravida women. It was found that housewives were significantly having greater gender bias than working women (p<0.05). Further, women with lower family income were having significantly greater gender bias than the women with higher monthly family income (p<0.05). In addition, it was found that rural women had significantly higher son preference score than urban women (p<0.005).

Discussion:

Gender biasness has emerged as a greater problem in developing countries; a preference for son or more sons than daughters has been documented in several developing courtiers in the world. In India, son preference is very strong and pervasive and has been frequently cited as major obstacle for reducing the national fertility level. In India son preference is alarming and leading to serious consequences such as female foeticide, higher level of fertility rate, larger family size to have male child in family, inequality in raring of male and female child, skewed male-female ratio in society. Thousands of researches have been done on son preference and female foeticide but the findings regarding perceived gender biasness and expected family size among women is scanty. Therefore, present study was undertaken to assess the perceived gender biasness and expected family size among expecting women was undertaken.

It was revealed that more than half of woman were in age group of 21-25 years and were having qualification of graduation and above. Two-third of them were Hindus, Housewives and were married since one year. Most of them were urban dwellers and had monthly income more than Rs. 10,000/-.

Surprisingly, it was revealed that almost one third of families expressed preference towards having son in the family. However, another two third of women were unbiased and welcomed both the genders equally. Two- third of the women expected small family size i.e. up to two children. While another one- third women expected even more then two children in their family. Agarwal s (2012)8 mentioned that the average family size preference among Indians is pretty high because of son preference. In another study from North Korea, Hahm Hs and Koh KS (1981)9 repor ted that average expected minimum family size is three with preferred family composition of two sons and one daughter.

It was found that housewives were significantly having greater gender bias than working women (p<0.005); which was supported by Pandey & Malhotra (2006)10 that women education was the most significant factor for reducing the son preference among them. Furthermore, Chung et al. (2007)11 reported that women with white collar jobs showed significantly less desire for son as compared to skilled and unskilled workers and housewives.

In addition, It was found that women with lower family income were having significantly greater gender bias then the women with higher monthly family income (p<0.005). Verma G.R. (2007)7 also emphasize that son preference was common among respondents who belonged to low socio economic group. Chung (2007)11 reported that responded living in urban area were significantly associated with lower son preference as compared to rural respondents. Similar findings were found in present study were rural dwellers has significantly higher gender biasness score as compared to their urban counterparts (p<0.005).

Conclusion

It was found that significant number of women expressed the son preference. However majority of them preferred a small family size. This type of trend may significantly contribute towards increased possibilities of female feticide in society which must be seriously taken care. It was found that working women, women from urban area and with higher monthly family income was found lower biasness score towards son preference then their counterpar ts. Therefore, it is recommended that there must be increased emphasis on girl education and employment to curb the menace of girl child loss in society and ultimately to establish the equilibrium of male-female child ratio.

References :

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