Status of Women in India

As per the World Economic Forum survey, India’s Global Gender Gap Index, 2022 ranking is 135 out of 146 countries, behind neighbours China and Bangladesh, primarily due to less participation of women in the economy and low wages.

Sex Ratio & Mortality Rate:

  • The sex ratio is used to describe the number of females per 1000 males. As per the census 2011 sex ratio for India is 940 females per 1000 males.
  • The State of Haryana has the lowest sex ratio in India and the figure shows a number of 877 females to that of 1000 males while Kerala has the highest of 1084 females per 1000 males.
  • The mortality rate or the death rate measures the frequency of deaths.
  • This annual rate is calculated for different age groups as the number of deaths for 1000 live births.
  • The age-specific death rate data indicates a high rate of female infant mortality (0-4 years) and maternal mortality (5-24 years).

Declining child sex ratio As per the Census, 2011 the child sex ratio (0-6 years) has shown a decline from 927 females per thousand males in 2001 to 919 females per thousand males in 2011 Some of the reasons for the neglect of girl child and low child sex ratio are son meta preference (identified by Economic survey 2017-18) and the belief that it is only the son who can perform the last rites, that lineage and inheritance run through the male line, sons will look after parents in old age, men are the breadwinners etc. Exorbitant dowry (especially in north India) demand is another reason for female foeticide/infanticide.

Small family norms coupled with the easy availability of sex determination tests may be a catalyst in the declining child-sex ratio, further facilitated by the easy availability of Preconception sex selection facilities. The poor literacy rate among womenDominance of agriculture as economic activityLack of ownership of socio-economic resources in the hands of women.

The consequences of declining child sex ratio: It has sharply increased violence against women. Increased violence against women has led to more son preference, as parents feel it is difficult to keep women safe. In a study conducted by the Centre for Social Research, Haryana, fear of violence against women is a major cause of female foeticide.

Apart from this, there have been increasing cases of polygamy due to a shortage of women. There are cases of forcible marriage of widows. There has been the commodification of women as well, with practices of purchasing of brides from poor areas. Economic consequences are that there is a huge proportion of the productive population that is missing. The lack of women impairs the ability of men to work and has led to increased work pressure on men.   The government has tried to counter the declining sex ratio through initiatives like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao; Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana etc.

Health: According to NFHS

  • As many as 57% of women aged 15-35 were anaemic in 2019 21.
  • The maternal mortality rate in India is 97 in 2018-20.

Economic status:

  • According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2020, only 18.6% of working-age women in India participate in the labour force.
  • This is three times lower than men.
  • According to the World Bank, Indian women’s participation in the formal economy is among the lowest in the world—only some parts of the Arab world perform worse.
  • Most Indian women indulge in unpaid work.
  • In 2019-21 only 22.7% of women had ownership of a house or land which was 35% in 2015-16
  • 78.6% of women have bank accounts which were 53% in 2015-16


  • As per the latest NSO report female literacy rate in India is 70.3% against 84.7% of male literacy rate.

Political status:

  • According to Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women’s Office, India ranks 148th regarding Women’s participation in Executive Government and Parliament.
  • Women make up only 11.8% of the total 542 seats in Lok Sabha (64 MPs) and 11% in Rajya Sabha (27 MPs).
  • The European countries stand at 22.5%, America at 25% and Nordic countries at 43.5%.
  • Though we have provided at least 33% reservation for women in Panchayats the same is still pending in Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies.
  • We are witnessing the new concept of Sarpanch Pati which is against the spirit of women’s empowerment
Importance of political empowerment of women More focus on women-related issues and more sensitive handling of women-related issues at the top level can have an immense impact on the status of women. It would help in inspiring other women to take up such roles and it can help in the creation of multiple women leaders.

Social Structures, social process and Women

  1. The caste structure: caste hierarchy led to the subordination of women over time, we can see this in the fact that constraint on women increases with an increase in the hierarchy of the castes.
  2. The institution of family: patriarchy is popular in almost all Indian families in direct or indirect ways the system of patriarchy is based on the subjugation of women in family matters.

Socialization: we have two different sets of socialization of male and female children, which created gender inequality in society. For example, we provide gun toys to a male child and a kitchen set or doll to a female child

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