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The National Statistical Office operating under Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) has recently released the Women and Men in India report. The report consolidates the crucial socio-economic indicators that portray gender situation in the country

Highlights of the report:

  • Population and Related Statistics
    • India’s projected population is 129.02 Crore with 48.59% female population in 2016.
    • The projected average annual exponential growth rate of population has declined from 1.63 in 2011 to 1.27 in 2016 and likely to further decline to 1.07 in 2021.
    • The projected sex ratio is likely to reach from 943 in 2011 to 945 in 2016 and it may further increase to 948 in 2021. The sex ratio is projected to remain constant at 929 in Urban India while in rural India it is estimated to reach at 958 in 2021 from 949 in 2011.
  • Health Statistics
    • In 2017, highest age fertility rate is recorded for the females belonging to the age group 25- 29 years at 157.1, while the age specific fertility rate stands at 137.1 for the age group of 20- 24 years.
    • Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for the country has come down to 2.2 in 2017 after being stable at 2.3 for the last three years from 2014 to 2016. (Table 2.1)
    • As per SRS 2017, the infant mortality rate has decreased from 40 in 2013 to 33 in 2017.
    • Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has declined from 301 in 2001-2003 to 122 in 2015-17.
    • Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for rural India is observed at 2.3 as compared to 1.7 in urban areas.
  • Education
    • In India, the literacy rate has increased to 77.7 in 2017 from 72.98 in 2011. It is observed that the male and female literacy in 2017 is at 84.7 and 70.3, respectively.
    • The Gender Parity Index (GPI) in higher education has increased from 0.94 in 2016-17 to 0.97 in 2017-18. There has been an increase in GPI from 2016-17 to 2017-18 in SC and ST categories as well.
  • Participation in Economy
    • Periodic Labour Force Survey results indicate that the worker population ratio for females in rural sector was 17.5 and 51.7 for males in 2017-18. In Urban sector, the ratio is 14.2 for females and 53.0 for males. In both rural and urban areas, WPRs for females were considerably lower than WPRs for males.
  • Participation in Decision Making
    • The percentage of women representation in Central Council of Ministers has decreased from 17.8 % in 2015 to 10.5 % in 2019.
    • There were 437.8 million women electors in Seventeenth Lok Sabha Election (2019) which had increased from 397.0 million in sixteenth Lok Sabha Elections (2014). The difference between the percentage of men and women electors participated in election was decreased from 1.46 to 0.17 from Sixteenth to Seventeenth Lok Sabha General Election.
  • Impediments in Empowerment
    • Share of Cruelty by Husband or his Relatives has reduced from 35% in 2015 to 27% in 2018.

Why Gender Equality?

  • To enable women to participate fully in society and contribute to the health and prosperity of the society.
  • It is estimated that India can potentially boost its GDP by $700 billion by 2025, by raising female labour-force participation rate.
  • Gender equality contributes to growth by raising the female-to-male ratio of labor-force participation, increasing women’s work hours, and having more women working in higherproductivity sectors.
  • Economically empowered women boost demand, have healthier and better-educated children, and raise human development levelsEquality at work goes hand in hand with gender equality in society.
  • Enabling her to lead a life of dignity.
  • Preventing their socio-economic exploitation and lowers domestic violence.
  • Enhancing a woman’s control over household decision-making.
  • If we have representation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI’s), in local bodies, in MLA and MP seats, evidence shows that the decision making by women is much better or superior than men.

Gender Inequality:

  • Women remain subject to traditional attitudes that define their primary role as being in the home.
  • Women often lack access to the financing needed to start or expand a business.
  • Globally, the value of women’s unpaid work performed is three times higher than that of men, whereas in the Asia-Pacific region, it is four times higher.
  • Unconscious bias in the workplace.
  • Though they comprise almost 40 percent of agricultural labour, they control only 9 percent of land in
  • More than 50 percent of women have no valuable assets to their name.
  • India has a lower share of women’s contribution to the GDP than the global average.
  • Women face great physical insecurity.
  • Crimes against women such as rapes, dowry deaths, and honour killings.
  • A culturally ingrained parental preference for sons — emanating from their importance as caregivers for parents in old age.


  • Stereotypical thinking and Patriarchal mindset is the biggest challenge.
  • Declining child sex ratio (CSR), the practice of gender-biased sex selection, and child marriage.
  • Domestic violence against women is also high.
  • Women being exposed to violence by their partners.
  • Judicial remedies or police reforms, though absolutely necessary, are mostly curative, rather than being preventive.
  • Benefits like maternity leave or related facilities will not be accessible to her in the informal sector.

Potential Areas of Focus:

  • From a corporate perspective, every organization is promoting a healthy ratio of women in their workforce. When we look at statistics three years before, it used to be 18-22% even in the formal sector.
  • This has gone up to a figure of 30-32% currently. Secondly, this larger workforce is coming at the entry level.
  • The private sector and business community will be crucial in helping bridge the gap between skills and jobs and enable access to decent work for women.
  • Vocational and technical training, life skills and financial literacy programmes for women to help them develop marketable skills and better decision-making abilities.
  • Companies can also invest in women entrepreneurs through microfinance, and bring their goods and services into supply chains.
  • Enhancing women’s access to the internet and ICT can create a market of connected women who can be linked to business opportunities.
  • Increasing representation of women in the public spheres is important.
  • Female leaders serve as role models and raise educational and career aspirations for adolescent girls and their parents.
  • Attitudinal shift is essential for women to be considered as equal within their homes and in broader society.
  • Educating Indian children from an early age about the importance of gender equality.

Way Forward:

  • A self-drive from the entire workforce.
  • Encouragement from the family, society and the corporations with whom they are employed with.
  • The best way to bridge the gender gap would be in terms of education.
  • There is much scope in the area of secondary and tertiary education, but more so in the field of technical education.
  • Until we see this as a mindset issue, i.e. we change the patriarchal mindset and our myths and misconceptions around the preference for son’s, etc. we would probably be discussing all these issues in an economic perspective.
  • Need ownership of the idea that women’s employment is something that you want to achieve as a goal and not by chasing statistics.
  • Government Initiatives are required
  • Companies should also now start seeing women’s issues.
  • Women should not be quitting midway in their careers.