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Population and Gender

Sunita Kishor


Gender represents the different roles, rights, and obligations that culture and society attach to individuals according to whether they are born with male or female sex characteristics. Gender is often described as being socially constructed since gender-specific roles, rights, and obligations, with the exception of giving birth and breastfeeding, are ascribed, not biological, correlates of the sex of an individual. Gender is not just a characteristic of individuals, however; it is fundamental to the organization of societal institutions, including families, communities, laws, religion, and labor markets. While the specific manifestations of gender vary by culture, class, and, for individuals, life cycle stage, the common dimensions of gender critical for understanding the why and how of the gender-population link include the following: • Gender is not “value” neutral. Although the roles that males and females are assigned are both valued, male roles and rights are valued more highly than female roles and rights socially, culturally, economically, and often, legally. In some societies this translates into a greater value being placed on the health and survival of males than of females. Examples of population indicators that are affected by gender-driven differences in the perceived worth of males and females include population sex ratios and sex ratios at birth, infant and child ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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