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Lottery of birth
Lottery of birth

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2 Changing lives of girls and women

Being born female, or male, is as significant in the 21st century as previous centuries. In this next part of this 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.

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Figure 4

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

It is possible to 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.