New Delhi: India aims to achieve United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goal-5, which focuses on women empowerment and gender equality, by 2030. According to the UN Women, gender equality and women empowerment can be achieved by building a society that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, a society that is diverse, equitable and inclusive – to leave no one behind. UN Women stresses that full and equal participation in all aspects of society is a fundamental human right of all women. However, because of patriarchal norms and traditions, the progress on the personal and economic empowerment and future well-being of women and girls is slow, it says.
Here is a closer look at some of the key determinants of well being of women in India:
Gender Inequality Index
India ranks 131 out of 189 on the Gender Inequality Index 2020 of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which is an index designed to measure gender disparity. It measures gender inequalities in three important aspects of human development—
- reproductive health, measured by maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rates;
- empowerment, measured by the proportion of parliamentary seats occupied by females and proportion of adult females and males aged 25 years and older with at least some secondary education; and
- economic status expressed as labour market participation and measured by labour force participation rate of female and male populations aged 15 years and older.
World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index
As per the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 published by the World Economic Forum, India is ranked at 140 out of 156 countries with a score of 0.625 (out of 1). The Index measures the progress towards gender parity and compares economies’ gender gaps across four dimensions:
- economic opportunities,
- health, and
- political leadership
The report estimated that in India, it would take 265 years to bring equality between men and women.
Women Workforce In India
The data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed that women accounted for only about 10 per cent of the total jobs in 2021.
Impact Of COVID On Women Workforce
According to CMIE, the most disproportionate loss of jobs because of the first wave of COVID-19 was among urban women. Urban women account for about three per cent of total employment. But, they accounted for 39 per cent of total job losses. Of the 0.63 crore jobs lost, urban women accounted for a loss of 0.24 crore.
Political Empowerment Of Women
The Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to amend the Constitution of India and reserve a third of all seats in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) and in all state legislative assemblies for women, was passed by the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of parliament) in 2010. However, the Lok Sabha (lower house) is yet to put the bill to a vote for it to become a law. According to the Gender Inequality Index, 2019 of UNDP, women’s share of seats in Parliament is only 13.5 per cent. However, the Parliament has seen an increase in the number of women politicians elected in the Lok Sabha from 52 in 2009 to 64 in 2014 and 78 in 2019.
According to the Government of India, there is a 33 per cent reservation for women at the local self-government (Panchayati Raj Institutions) level. This means that at the grassroots level, one-third of the stakeholders in the governance process are women.
Violence Against Women
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which functions under the Union Home Ministry, over 3.7 lakh (3,71,503) cases of crime against women were reported across the country in 2020 in comparison to over 4 lakh (4,05,326) cases in 2019 and over 3.78 lakh (3,78,236) cases in 2018. The majority of cases under crime against women in 2020 were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or his Relatives’ (30 per cent) followed by an assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (23 per cent), kidnapping and abduction of women (16.8 per cent) and rape (7.5 per cent).
Access To Health And Nutrition
The National Family Health Survey or NFHS of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare presents a snapshot of the state of the nation’s population, health and nutrition. The fifth and the latest round of the survey – NFHS 5 was conducted in two phases during 2019-2021. According to NFHS-5, the proportion of women with below normal body mass index (BMI) has decreased from 22.9 per cent in 2015-16 to 18.7 per cent in 2019-21. About 57 per cent of women in the age group 15-49 years are anaemic, up from 53 per cent in 2015-16. On reproductive health care, NFHS-5 reveals that the number of institutional births increased from 78.9 per cent in 2015-16 to 88.6 per cent in 2019-2021. Antenatal (pre-birth) care in the first trimester has increased to 70 per cent in 2019-21 which was 58.6 per cent in 2015-16. NFHS-5 data shows that in 2019-21, 77.3 per cent of women aged 15-24 years used menstrual hygiene products while only 57.6 per cent used those in 2015-16.
Also Read: Opinion: Why Women Eat Last And Least?
Access To Education
According to NFHS-5, only 71.5 per cent of women are literate in India as compared to 84.4 per cent men. The data shows that 41 per cent of women received 10 or more years of schooling in 2019-21, compared to 36 per cent in 2015-16.
Ownership Of Physical Assets
The NFHS talks about ownership of three physical assets –
* mobile phones
* bank accounts; and
* land & housing
Around 54 per cent of women have their own mobile phones. The proportion of women operating bank or savings accounts has increased from 53 per cent in 2015-16 to 78.6 per cent in 2019-21. Out of the total women in India 43.3 per cent own a house and /or land (alone or jointly with others) in 2019-21, an increase of 4.9 per cent from 2015-16, when it was 38.4 per cent.
Key Household Decision Making
Married women’s household decision-making related to health care, and household purchases has increased from 84 per cent in 2015-16 to nearly 89 per cent in 2019-21.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.