Lottery of birth
Lottery of birth

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Lottery of birth

2.1 The changing lives of girls

The statistician Hans Rosling has some interesting and controversial ideas about the changes to the world population that are happening now and about those projected, by some, for our future.

World fertility levels have dropped from an average of 5.0 in 1963 to an average of 2.5 in 2013. In most places around the world two children families are becoming the norm. In the following video Rosling follows Tanjina, a 15-year-old school girl in Bangladesh, whose family – the Khan’s – are responding to the changes related to population and gender. You will see how this can be highly advantageous to girls and women.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_birth_vid_1027.mp4
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Transcript

HANS ROSLING
Here we are back in Bangladesh. Let's find the reasons behind this historic and continuing shift from large to small families. Almost all the girls in Muslim Bangladesh, like 15-year-old Tanjina, go to school today. The government now even pays families money to keep their daughters on at secondary level. At Tanjina's school, boys are now outnumbered by girls.

[PLAYGROUND CHATTER]

TEACHER
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] What type of family is this?
STUDENTS
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] A big family!
TEACHER
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] Will they be short of food?
STUDENTS
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] Yes!
HANS ROSLING
You could hardly miss the point of this lesson.
TEACHER
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] What type of family is this?
STUDENTS
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] A small family!
TEACHER
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] Will they face any difficulties?
STUDENTS
[NON ENGLISH SPEECH] No!
HANS ROSLING
Education is effective. And there are also new opportunities for Bangladeshi women.
Despite continuing inequalities, there are more jobs. And Tanjina is aiming high.
TANJINA
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] I love going to school. In my mother’s day, they used to get married young. They had no chance to study. But now we can have big dreams of becoming a doctor or an engineer.
End transcript
 
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Today, men and women are making reproductive choices not just on fiscal circumstances (their own and what the state is prepared to offer) but on changes to women’s lives (in terms of employment) and men’s lives (in terms of their involvement in parenting), and the availability of employment to both genders. As this video makes clear, many parents, as they have always done, project upon their children their hopes for their future and that of their country.

This section showed how the lives of girls have improved, however next you’ll consider the ways the lives of girls have not changed.

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