THE EARTH TIMES
DECEMBER 25, 1995
Teaching the value of girl children
By Ashali Varma
China’s family planning program is highly controversial, with human rights organizations citing draconian limits on family size. But some international population experts say the outside world ignores many positive aspects of Beijing’s family planning campaign.
“The Chinese are trying to systematically address two key concerns,” says demographer,
V. Palan, “continuing to improve both the status of women and the quality of their children’s health care and education.”
Palan, who is the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s regional director for Southeast Asia and Oceania, notes that China is actively working to convince parents of the value of their girl children and allay widespread concerns that the lack of a son will leave them without security in their old age. The government has instituted an insurance scheme to guarantee retirement benefits and is helping to boost women’s economic status and incomes. Chinese women, he observes, now occupy high-level, policy-making positions.
The country’s vast size makes family planning “a major challenge,” adds Palan. China’s
Family Planning Association has a huge volunteer base of 60 million people working at
various levels in urban and rural areas. In the poorer parts of country, these activists focus on improving women’s access to health care and organizing income-generating projects.