, NEW DELHI, Mar 8 – The United Nations estimated Monday that India and China are "missing" about 85 million women who died from discriminatory health care and neglect or who were never born at all.
In a major report on gender equality, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) found that Asia had the highest male-female sex ratio at birth in the world, with 119 boys born for every 100 girls.
This far exceeded the global world average of 107 boys for every 100 girls.
"Females cannot take survival for granted," the report said. "Sex-selective abortion, infanticide, and death from health and nutritional neglect in Asia have left 96 million missing women … and the numbers seem to be increasing in absolute terms," it added.
The regional figure was skewed by enormous birth gender disparities in China and India, which each accounted for about 42.6 million of the report\’s "missing" figure.
Despite robust economic growth across Asia as a whole, the report found that millions of women remained excluded from the benefits of greater prosperity.
The region, and especially South Asia, ranks near the worst in the world — often lower than sub-Saharan Africa — on basic issues such as protecting women from violence, as well as access to health, education, employment and political participation.
"Today, the Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads," the report said. "Whether gender equality is pushed aside or pursued with greater energy amid the economic downturn depends on actions taken or not taken now by governments."
The report focused on the need to improve women\’s rights in three key areas: economic power, political participation, and legal protection.