Indicators of Women’s Status in India


There are different forms of violence on women, which act as threats to women’s independent identity and
dignity. Forms of violence are:
1) Female foeticide & infanticide- According to a survey by British medical journal, Lancet, nearly 10
million female abortions have taken place in India in the last 20 years, which is rampant amongst the
educated Indian middle class as well.
There are organizations like Swanchetan, which are working towards educating & bringing awareness in
people against the ghastly act.

Women at a rally in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in Detroit’s Kennedy Square, June 30, 1981.


2) Rape, sexual harassment & abuse- It acts as a deterrent to women’s freedom & perpetuates the notion
that women are the weaker sex. Every 2 hours, a rape occurs somewhere in India!
The recent Dec. 16 Delhi Gang rape case, shook the entire country and led to protests all across the
country, setting up of Justice Verma panel & helped in the fast track judgment of the case. However
rampant cases of rape of Dalit women, acid attacks, eve teasing go unnoticed.
3) Domestic violence and dowry deaths- Violence on women in the family were considered family
problems and were never acknowledged as “crimes against women” until recently. It is prevalent in all
classes of society.
4) Prostitution- A large number of women destitute or victims of rape who are disowned by family fall prey
to prostitution forcibly. There are no governmental programs to alleviate the problem of prostitution.
5) Objectification of women- Indecent Representation of Women(Prohibition) Act, 1986 prohibits indecent
representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings etc. However a
whole lot of indecent representation of women is done through literature, media, paintings etc
upholding the “right to freedom of expression”.

As per World economic forum survey, India’s Global Gender Gap Index 2011 ranking is 113 out of 134 countries
with neighbors like Bangladesh at 69 & China at 60.
1) Sex Ratio –Sex ratio is used to describe the number of females per 1000 of males. As per census 2011
sex ratio for India is 940 females per 1000 of males, i.e. females form a meager 47% of the total
population. The State of Haryana has the lowest sex ratio in India and the figure shows a number of 877
of females to that of 1000 males while Kerala has the highest of 1084 females per 1000 males
2) Health – Studies on hospital admissions and records have shown that males get more medical care
compared to girls. 2% of the female population is absolute anaemic. 12% of the female population of the
country suffers from repeated pregnancy (80% of their productive life is spent in pregnancy) & lack of
nutrition.

3) Literacy – The female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46% where the
male literacy rate is over 80%. While Kerala has the highest female literacy rate of 100% , Bihar is at the
lowest with only 46.40%
4) Employment – Of the total female population 21.9% are a part of Indian workforce.
Majority of women are employed in the rural areas and in agriculture. Amongst rural women workers
87% are employed in agriculture as laborers, cultivators, self employed like hawkers etc i.e in the
unorganized sector which almost always remains invisible.
Despite the equal remuneration Act 1976, women are paid lower wages, occupy lower skilled jobs, have
less access to skill training and promotion.
5) Political status – Though India had a women Prime Minister Late Ms Indira Gandhi, women are not fairly
represented in the Parliament & other State & Local bodies. With only around 9 per cent women in
upper house and around 11 per cent in the lower house of parliament, India ranks 99th in the world in
terms of female representation among MPs.
However 73rd & 74th amendments to the constitution have ensured the participation of women in
PRIs with a reservation of 1/3rd for women. Today more than 30 million women are actively participating
in the political decision making process at the grass root.

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“Without economic freedom other aspects of women equality would not be realized”
-Jawaharlal Nehru
Women’s work participation rate in general has been declining over the decades. The decline has occurred due
to several factors:
1) Absence of comprehensive and rational policy for women’s emancipation through education, training
and access to resources such as land, credit and technology etc.
2) The perception of male as the breadwinner of the family despite the fact that in low income households
women’s income is crucial for sustenance. This perception adversely affects women’s education &
training. Employers also visualize women workers as supplementary workers & also cash in on this
perception to achieve their capitalistic motives by keeping the wage low for women.
3) Structural changes in the economy e.g decline in traditional rural industries or industrialization.
4) Lack of assets (land, house) in their own name in order to have access to credit and self employment
opportunities
5) Huge demand

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of time and energy of women for various tasks at home like child bearing and rearing etc
in addition to participation in labour force leave them with little time for education, training and self
development
6) Division of labour based on the gender between men and women & technological advancements work
against women. They are the last to be hired and first to be sacked.
7) Govt. programs to increase employment and productivity are focused more on men & women are seen
as beneficiaries rather than active participants