Sputnik: How significant is this story?
Valentina Gallo: We have conducted a study looking at the mortality of children under the age of five and under what extent are boys and girls are identified differently. We have looked at the situation of these with the gender equality index; this is an index which takes into account the role of women in each country for example the woman participation into the political life, women’s health and women’s education. When we looked at this data across the world we saw that in countries where the gender equality was highest, a proportionally high number of girls were dying compared to boys before the age of 5.
Valentina Gallo: I think this not the final evidence we need at the point, it’s more of a heads up saying that gender inequality across the world might be implicated to child mortality as a whole but these might be proportionally seen in particular amongst girls which would be extremely worrying because it means that there is a transgenerational effect whereby the gender inequality perpetuates itself into the next generations. First of all we need to prove that this is the case that girls are dying of gender inequalities, unfortunately this type of research has not been able to prove it but once this has been done and we have enough evidence then we need to tackle gender inequalities to keep our girls alive. For example data coming from India suggests that girls have fewer vaccines and health care compared to boys and this may well account for the difference in higher infant mortality when looking at statistics.
Sputnik: Moving forwards, what’s the next step in your research?
Valentina Gallo: Our next step is to try and untangle what the relative role of society into this and what’s the relative role of biological mechanisms, we are going to look at causes of death to try and find this out. Once this has been done, we might need to research specific countries where gender inequality is higher in order to assess to what extent are these features responsible for disproportionately deaths of girls.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.