It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.” — Swami Vivekananda

“Women are not born, but made” – Simone de Beauvoir

A nation’s progress and prosperity can be judged by the way it treats its women folk.



  • As per Census 2011, India’s population was 121.06 Cr and the females constituted 48.5% of it.
  • In 2011, the sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males) at all India level was 943 and the same for rural and urban areas are 949 and 929 respectively. The sex ratio for 0 – 19 age group was 908 while that of 60+ age group was 1033. The sex ratio in the economically active age group (15 – 59 years) was 944.
  • Sex ratio in the age group 0 – 6 years has increased in rural from 906 in 2001 to 923 in 2011. However, the ratio has a decline in urban area in the same period.
  • The SRS 2014 showed that, the women’s mean age at marriage at all India level was 22.3 years and the same in rural and urban areas are 21.8 years and 23.2 years respectively.
  • As per National Sample Survey (July 2011 – June 2012), 11.5% households in rural areas and 12.4 % households in urban areas are female headed households.


  • The SRS 2014 estimates showed a Crude Birth Rate (CBR) of 21 and General Fertility Rate (GFR) of 77.6 at all India level.
  • In 2014, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 2.3. TFR was high for illiterate women both in rural and urban areas, higher among rural illiterate women and statistics reveal that improvement in educational level lowers the TFR.
  • The SRS 2014 reported that the age – specific fertility rate was highest (174.9) in the age group 20 – 24 years followed by the age group 25 – 29 years (143.7) and 30 – 34 years (76.6).
  • The mortality rate among females across all ages was 6.2 and that among males was 7.1 in 2014.
  • The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has declined from 301 in 2001 – 03 to 167 in 2011 – 13.
  • In 2014, the Infant Mortality (IMR) of females was 40 while that of males was 37. The rate of decline in the IMR of females was faster than that of IMR among males.
  • In 2014, urban mothers received 1.27 times more medical attention at the time of delivery as compared to rural mothers (urban:93.2%, rural:73.2%).
  • The life expectancy for females was 69.6 years and for males was 66.4 years during the period 2010 – 2014, depicting higher life expectancy of females as compared to males.

Literacy and Education

  • As per Census 2011, the literacy rate at all India level was 72.98% and the literacy rate for females and males are 64.63% and 80.9% respectively. During the last decade, the highest improvement in literacy rate was observed for rural females (24%).
  • At all India level, the adult (15 + years) literacy rate was 76% and that among males was 78.8% and females was 59.3%. Rural – Urban gap existed in Adult literacy rate for both females and males. The adult literacy rate for females in rural areas was 50.6% vis-a- vis 76.9% in urban areas whereas for males the same in rural areas was 74.1% vis-a-vis 88.3% in urban areas.

Participation in Economy

  • In 2011, the Workforce Participation Rate at all India level was 25.51% for female and 53.26% for males. While there was no rural – urban gap for males (53%), there was considerable rural – urban gap for females (rural – 30%, urban – 15.4 % ).
  • As per NSS 2011 – 12, 59.3% of the female workers in rural India are self employed while in urban areas the corresponding figure was 42.8%. Among the male workers, 54.5% in rural areas and 41.7% in urban areas are self employed. In rural areas the share of regular wage/ salaried employees was less for both females (5.6%) and males (10%) compared to urban areas (42.8% – females, 43.4 – males).
  • In 2015 – 16 (5th Annual Employment – Unemployment Survey conducted by Labour Bureau), the unemployment rate for persons aged 15 +years was 3.7 at all India level. For females (15+ years) , the unemployment rate was 5.8, while for the males (15+ years) the same was 3.0. There was considerable rural–urban gap in unemployment rate of females (rural – 4.7, urban – 10.9).
  • The 6th Economic Census (2013-14) showed that, 21.49% of the total establishments are owned by females and 18.29% of the workers employed in establishments are females.

Participation in Decision Making

  • As in 2016, women ministers constituted 12% in Central Council of Ministers (9 out of 75).
  • In the 16th Lok Sabha, 12% of the total members are women (64 out of 534).
  • In 2015, the share of women judges in Supreme Court was 4% (1 out of 26) and it was 10% (54 out of 517) considering all High Courts in India.
  • In 2016, at all India level 46% of the elected representatives in Panchayati Raj Institutions are women.

Social Obstacles in Women’s Empowerment

  • In 2015, 4% of the total crimes reported are the crimes categorised as ‘crime against women’ . Among the crime against women ‘Cruelty by Husband and relatives’ has the highest share (35%) followed by ‘Assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty’ (25%).
  • In 2015, 67 % of the investigated cases of crime against women were disposed of by the police.
  • 3% of cases of crime against women were convicted out of all the cases of crime against women taken up by the Courts in 2015.
  • According to Census 2011, 2.4% of the total male population was disabled while the same among the female population was 2.01%


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