There is also a cultural perception that boys and subsequently men, are more economically productive as compared to girls/women (Cisnero 209). Men grow to protect and provide for their families and communities. In order prepare them to meet their obligations in society; they are given an education and other social training to be able cope. On the contrary, society expects women to assume a less prominent role in their families and they respectively receive little attention in their families and communities. Where these beliefs are weak, they do not usually translate into radical decisions by parents to abort girl pregnancies or abandon infants. However, under conditions such as the One Child Policy in China, and the strong family planning trends in the fast developing economies in the region, these beliefs have dire consequences on the parents’ and populations’ decisions on sexes.
China’s One Child Policy is perhaps the single most important influence on the continent’s gender preferences, not least because it brings all other cultural beliefs about gender to actual decisions as to the sex of the child to have. With a population of more than a billion people, the beliefs and government policies in China are largely represents the entire continent’s situation. The imposition of the One Child Policy has led to parents trying to get the children’s sex is male, which has in turn resulted into sex engineering among the middle class, while the poorer populations have resorted to abortions, abandonment and infant killings, in order to ensure that their ‘One’ child is male (Fiske 63). Government policies in Singapore and Hong Kong have recently sought to boost their respective countries’ fertility through the provision of allowances to new mothers, which has increased the population’s attitudes towards gender equality. In the rest of the continent, extreme poverty conditions determine whether families’ decisions as to whether they should educate both boys and girls, depending on the benefits that they will derive from such investments. Girls present a poor prospect to parents, and are never expected by their societies to excel, unless they actually do. As demonstrated by Cisneros (1990), the girl child struggles with an unfavorable culture that ultimately accepts her after she actually succeeded.
Cisneros (1990), depicts a number of factors, other than culture, that influence personal decisions reached by parents as well as the collective decisions made by communities as regards gender equality, which in turn have a bearing on the sex preferences. At a family level; the parent’s personal characteristics including the position of the mother and father and the way that the parents treat children within a family. This has an effect on the children’s sex preferences, with the sex that are perceived as stronger (mostly men) being more preferred to the females.
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Cohen. Handbook of CUltural Psychology. New York: Guilford, 2011.