The lottery of birth
The lottery of birth

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The lottery of birth

3.2 Changing lives of girls and women

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Figure 9

Being born female, or male, is as significant in the twenty-first century as previous centuries. In this next part of the course you will be focusing on the ways gender inequalities shape lives and how the empowerment of girls and women is vital for everyone’s future.

The lottery of birth is about inequality, of the circumstances in which we are born and of the circumstances in which we give birth, and the consequences of both of these for our life chances.

We can understand these unequal circumstances and their unequal consequences both at the level of whole populations and in terms of individual experience. Throughout this course, you will have noticed policies, cultures and practices that have a profound influence on gender. For example, you saw last week that a combination of anti-natalist policy and greater use of scanning technology has led to a higher percentage of female foetuses than male foetuses aborted in China with troubling consequences for Chinese women and men.

At a global level, social, economic and political changes affect the construction of gender and gender relations. While laws and policies can be created to value girls and women, it is also as much about everyday relationships between the sexes and changing attitudes towards girls and women.

In the next section, you will hear about how the lives of girls are changing.


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