Impact of Two Child Policy on Women
Impact of Two Child Policy on Women Recently Uttar Pradesh Law Commission on July 7, 2021 proposed a law on two-child policy which compels couples to limit their families through a series of incentives and disincentives. However, there is no evidence, that coercive policies can truly reduce fertility. Two-child policies are known to disproportionately impact the most vulnerable, particularly women and girls. The proposed bill lays out incentives and disincentives that may have disastrous consequences and lead to an increase in gender inequality, sex-selective elimination, unsafe abortions and malnutrition. Similarly, Assam Government announced that people with more than two children will not be able to avail benefits under specific schemes funded by the state. This will be in addition to the amendment already made in 2018 to the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, which requires a two-child norm along with minimum educational qualifications and functional sanitary toilets for contesting panchayat polls. However, data showed the different picture as TFR in Assam is 1.9, which is less than the national average of 2.2. More than 82 per cent of women and 79 per cent of men consider the ideal family size to be two or fewer children. At least 11 per cent of currently married women in Assam have an unmet need for family planning. A five-state study by a bureaucrat showed that coercive policies are ineffective reducing fertility. The study, instead, revealed that there was a rise in sex-selective and unsafe abortions in states that adopted the two-child policy; men divorced their wives to run for local body elections; and families gave up children for adoption to avoid disqualification. What needs to be done:- • Our focus must be on safeguarding women and girls’ reproductive health. Smaller families can be achieved by ensuring gender equality, empowering women, improving education, economic development and access to family planning services. For example Sri Lanka brought down its fertility rate via greater investments in girl-child education and a robust family planning programme. Bangladesh did so by expanding the basket of contraceptive choices available to men and women. • In India, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have experienced significant reduction in fertility rates without any coercive methods. In Kerala, the state was able to bring total fertility rate (TFR) down to 1.6 by investing in girl-child education, employment opportunities, women’s empowerment and a strong healthcare system. Conclusion • Instead of imposing stringent population control measures, it would be far more effective for India to focus on delaying age at marriage, improving spacing between children and ensuring girls stay in schools. • This high percentage of child marriage is a matter of concern as it has an impact on girls’ education, gender-based violence, livelihoods, early childbearing and health and nutrition. • The focus should be on increasing demand and addressing the unmet need for contraception. This will contribute towards population stabilisation.