Mara Hvistendahl: Unnatural Selection

World Policy Institute and Women's Media Center present:

Unnatural Selection

A Book Launch and Reception with author Mara Hvistendahl, moderated by Kavitha Rajagopalan. 

June 9, 2011, 6pm
at Demos
220 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, New York


More than 160 million females are “missing” from Asia’s population. That’s more than the entire female population of the United States. Gender imbalance—which is mainly the result of sex selective abortion—is no longer strictly an Asian problem. In Azerbaijan and Armenia, in Eastern Europe, and even among some groups in the United States, couples are making sure at least one of their children is a son. So many parents now select for boys that they have skewed the sex ratio at birth of the entire world.

In her first book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of MenMara Hvistendahl explores how this has occurred, asking why women and girls are becoming scarce in Asia and Eastern Europe as these regions develop, and what will happen when the world’s extra boys grow up. Drawing on extensive reporting in China, India, Vietnam, South Korea, Albania, and other countries, Hvistendahl weaves together the story of the world’s “missing” women into a riveting narrative, casting everyone from prostitutes, mail-order brides, and militant nationalists to geneticists, activists, and AIDS researchers—along with the California fertility doctors hard at work selling the world’s parents on the latest form of sex selection. In this discussion, she delves into the implications for security, women's rights, governance, and economic development.

Unnatural Selection will be available at the event for $20 (list price $26.99). 

About the Speakers:

Mara Hvistendahl is a Beijing-based correspondent for Science.  Her award-winning writing has also appeared in Harper'sScientific AmericanPopular Science, the Financial Times, and Foreign Policy.  Proficient in both Spanish and Chinese, she has spent half of the past decade in China, where she has reported on everything from archaeology to the space program.  A former contributing editor at Seed magazine and journalism professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, Hvistendahl sits on the advisory board of Round Earth Media, an organization founded to promote international journalism.  Unnatural Selection is her first book.

Kavitha Rajagopalan is a writer and policy analyst. As a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, she has written and lectured widely on global migration. She has taught courses in writing, economics and migration at NYU's Center for Global Affairs. She has worked as a consultant for financial services and social justice organizations, and as a journalist in the U.S., Germany and India. She is the author of Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West (Rutgers University Press 2008), and a columnist for Newsday and for PBS Need-to-Know's "Voices". Kavitha was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship and the John J. McCloy Journalism Award. She is currently a director of research for a risk consulting firm.


Discussion and light reception:
Thursday, June 9, 2011

6:00 – 7:30 PM


220 Fifth Avenue (bewteen 26th and 27th Streets)
Fifth Floor Conference Room

New York, New York

Payment and Registration:

  • Free for WPI members
  • Regular Admission – $15, or $30 for admission and a copy of Unnatural Selection
  • Nonprofit Admission – $10, or $25 for admission and a copy of Unnatural Selection
  • Student Admission – $5, or $20 for admission and a copy of Unnatural Selection

Advance payment and registration are required. To register, please email by June 8 with your name and affiliation. 

Payments can be made online via PayPal HERE:

Unnatural Selection – June 9

To pay by check, make checks payable to World Policy Institute and send to:
World Policy Institute
220 Fifth Ave, Ninth Floor
New York, NY 10001

Call the World Policy Institute Events line at 212.481.5005, Option 2, with any event-related questions.

About the Sponsors:

The World Policy Institute and World Policy Journal engage fresh ideas and new voices from around the world to address critical shared challenges. We provide a forum for solution-focused policy analysis and public debate toward an inclusive and sustainable global market economy, effective and fair governance, and collaborative approaches to security.

The Women's Media Center makes women visible and powerful in the media. Through their media advocacy campaigns, creating their own media, and training women to participate directly in media, WMC ensures that women's stories are told and voices are heard. They are directly engaged with the media at all levels to ensure that a diverse group of women is present in newsrooms, on air, in print and online, as sources and subjects.

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