Gender Differences in the Developing World and How It Affects Childhood Nutrition

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Gender Differences in the Developing World and how it Affects Childhood Nutrition Gender differences in child mortality exist in most regions of the developing world, with a particularly high surplus of female mortality (Pande, 2003). There has been little research on gender differences in health among surviving girls and boys, but this is an important issue because gender discrimination that contributes to poorer health status for girls than for boys is likely to be the main cause for a surplus of female child mortality. Taking a deeper look at the reasons behind why parents may not give the proper nutrition to their female daughters, brings up the ethical argument of the child’s rights and justice in the developing world. The persistence of such discrimination against girls stems from the perceived greater economic, social, and religious utility of sons than of daughters. Parents of girls are socially bound to find suitable husbands for them at an early age and social customs dictate that parents cannot expect much emotional or economic support from married daughters. In contrast, parents expect sons to provide financial and emotional care and regard them as a “social security” for old age (Richards et al., 2012). Research has found that coexisting with the preference for sons is the desire for a balanced sex composition and that parents may desire at least one daughter. Where a strong preference for sons exists, the preferred sex composition often includes two sons and one daughter, and the daughter is seen to provide important religious, social, or emotional value (Pande, 2003). On the other hand, more than one or two daughters are usually not welcome, and girls who are born into a family that already has daughters are the most likely to be least valued and thus discriminated against by the household. Although research has documented the extent and nature of
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