Women and Men in India, 2010

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The publication ‘Women and Men in India’ presents a holistic view of the situation of women in India. It delineates the strides made and the challenges that persist in relation to the violence against women, economic and political empowerment, disaster preparedness, health, education etc.

It is published by the Central Statistical Office of the Government of India, and has been published regularly since 1995. The current (2010) issue is the 12th in the series.

Excerpts from the publication are given below. The full publication is available here.



Age specific fertility rate (ASFR) helps in discerning the prime years of child bearing at a given point of time. The general fertility rate (GFR) has declined from 102.8 in year 2000 to 88.0 in 2008, while TFR (average number of children born to a women during her reproductive period in the current schedules of fertility and mortality) during the same period has declined from 3.2 to 2.6. The decline in TFR and GFR is also supported by pattern of ASFR which shows that later adolescents fertility (15-19 years age-group) has declined from 51.1 in year 2000 to 41.6 in 2008. Similarly, other peak years of higher fertility 20-24 and 25.29 has ASFR as 218.7 and 184.5 in 2000 which interestingly decline to 200.1 and 158.3 in 2008. This faster decrease in fertility levels since year 2000 has been corroborated by greater awareness and acceptance of womanhood, freedom for choice and expression of the self in use of family planning methods and concerted availability of family planning methods and other recreational facilities.


Prevailing norms of social, economic, demographic and medical care helps in discern the differences in male-female mortality pattern. Though women are biologically stronger than men, they exhibit a higher mortality pattern in Asia because of prevailing gender norms in health seeking behaviour and that holds true for India. An interesting feature of declining age specific mortality rate (ASMR) has been observed for women since year 2000. ASMR for women in year 2000 was 8.9 and has come down to 6.8 in year 2008 which a great realisation of National Population Policy and National Rural Health Mission coupled with sectoral women empowerment programmes.

Sex ratio

Sex ratio is the most important population characteristics which highlights the social and medical attention provided to women. There has been a continuous drop is sex ratio (F/M) in India during 1901-1991. The last decade has seen a reversal of the trend by fetching sex ration 933 in 2001 from 927 in 1991. The projected trend maintains the scenario by exhibiting a sex ration of 932 in 2009. A reversing trend in the female-male growth pattern is observed which shows that the female population growth rate was 1.97 % compared to 1.90% for the male population. Though decreasing growth pattern of overall population is a healthy indicator, projected trend also indicates a decreasing growth pattern for the girl child which may spur great social changes.

Women by age groups

A fast change is occurring in the composition of the women for age-group 0-14 during 2005-2008 where percentage of women declined from 33% in 2005 to 31.9 % in 2007 while percentage of men increased from 31.8 % in 2005 to 32.5% in 2007.Though the girl-child population has decreased considerably, women in the reproductive age group (15-44) has changed a little. Reproductive age group has been inflated by only by addition of 1.5 % women from 47.4 % in year 2000 to 48.9 % in year 2008. Percentage of old aged women has always been higher upto year 2000 compared to men in the same age group. In year 2008, there were 7.2% women in age-group 60+ and men were 6.9 % which again captures the population distribution pattern of year 2000 or before. Marital stock of women and men can highlight the prevailing gender norms in the society. Year 2007 has seen 43.9% women and 53.5 % male who are never married. Moreover, 8.2 % females in all ages were widowed, divorced or separated.


Biological differences and women’s' and men’s' exposure to social, economic and cultural milieu induces planned institutional services for the general well-being of the women, children and family as a whole. The process of child-bearing exposes women to specific health care and associated risks. High MMR is the evidence of puerperal risks prevailing in the country. As per the SRS based studies, MMR has declined from 301 per one lakh live births to 254 per one lakh live births during 2004-06. This sharp decline in MMR may be due to better performance of overall health system and institutional delivery. Also, the improvement in the coverage of ANC received by the mother also contributed to decline in MMR. Health of the women is an important indicator depicting overall operationalsiation of social and gender norms in the society. More the infant and child mortality, more is the fertility which adds to the extra expenditure on the exchequer of the country for fertility related care and related losses due to productive work by women. However, infant and child mortality is continuously declining. IMR for female in 2001 was 68 which declined to 55 in 2008. Similarly, IM R for male was 64 in 2001 which has come down to 52 in 2008.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy at birth has been increasing continuously due to health system performance and various changes in normative health seeking behaviour. Life expectancy at birth for males was 61 years and for females 62.7 years during 1996-2000 which has increased to 62.6 years for males and 64.7 years for females respectively during 2002-06.

Institutional deliveries & family planning

The family planning programme (now RCH, 1997) since its inception in 1951 has forayed into contributing towards betterment of health of both mother and children along with its preliminary Family Planning services. Overall, 47% deliveries took place at a health facility in India during 2007-08. 46.5 % couples are protected by at least any of the methods of family planning.

As per National Family Health Survey III -2005-06, 99.6% of ever married females in the urban areas are aware of any family planning method as compared to 99.1% in the rural areas. Female sterilization is the most widely known family planning method (known to about 98.4% of ever married females) followed by male sterilization and condoms.

During 2005-06, about 46% of the eligible couples were effectively protected by some method or the other, sterilization being the most widely used method protecting about 29% of eligible couples.

75% pregnant women have received at least one ANC and 51% pregnant women have received 3 ANC visits during 2007-08 in India.


The number of girls per 100 boys enrolled in different levels of school education is on the rise over the years, but the gap still continues well over 10 in primary education, more than 20 at middle level and secondary classes. Even when the school enrolment reduces considerably from primary to secondary level and above, both for boys and girls, the reduction is more for girls. The difference in the male and female primary enrolment has reduced to a great extent (115% for males and 108% for female in 2006-07) over the years but still there is a huge gap in the male and female literacy levels.

However, overall literacy rate in 2007-08 is 72%. In 2005-06, the male literacy rate was about 78% as compared to female literacy rate of about 55% in the age group of 15-49 years. Drop out rates in different levels of school education are significantly more for girls as compared to boys. For instance, in 2006-07 at the secondary education level (class I-X), the female drop out rate was about 62% as compared to male drop out rate of 59%. Education is not considered to be necessary for girls in about 13% of such cases, as compared to 7% for boys. Number of females per 100 males in different disciplines of university education indicates a clear gender difference in the preference of subjects. For instance, during 2006-07, the number of females per 100 males was 76.9 in Arts followed by 71.2 in science, 89.5 in medicine, and 35.8 in engineering & technical education.

Work-force participation

Work force participation rate of women and men is a good indicator of economic development of the country. During 2005-06, WPR of women was about 31% in rural areas and 14% in urban areas according to the usual status. For males, the WPR about 56% both in rural areas and in urban areas. However, there was a marked improvement by about 6 percentage points for rural WPR of women as compared to 2004-05.

Both organised and unorganized sectors are important to understand the employment pattern prevailing in the country. In the organised sector, about 18.7% were women employees in 2004. The proportion of women employees was higher in the private sector (about 24.8%) as compared to that in the public sector (about 15.9%). In 2005-06, in rural areas, labour force participation rate of women was 31.40% and that of men was 56.10%.Similarly in Urban Areas, in 2005-06, labour force participation rate of women was 15.20% and that of men was 56.60%. This indicates clear gender divide in labour force participation rate.

However, unemployment rate of women is found to have declined from 3.1 % in 2004-05 to 2.2% in 2005-06 in rural areas and from 9.1% to 7.9% in the corresponding years in urban areas. The unemployment rate for men on the contrary has increased from 2.1% (2004-05) to 2.5% (2005-06) in rural areas and from 4.4% (2004-05) to 4.8% (2005-06) in urban areas.

It has been observed that 38% women and 62% men are employed in unorganized manufacturing sector in India. Rural-urban differentials are also notable. It is found that rural area is highly dominated by women employed in unorganized sector with 43.9 % women in rural and 27.3% women in urban area. The pattern of employment gets reversed where higher percentage (72%) males are employed in unorganized manufacturing sector in 2006-07. Percentage of female employees out of total employees in Central Government in the India in 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 were 2.51, 3.64, 7.58 and 7.53 only but the trend is increasing. The share of women employment out of total employment in public sector was 15.9% and in private sector was 24.8%.

Time use statistics

In the Time Use Survey carried out by the CSO in 1998 in six states, all the members of the selected households who were of age 6 years and above were asked to report the time spent by them on various activities performed by them during the last 24 hours. Questions were also asked about the multiple activities i.e. two or more activities performed by individuals concurrently. In case of such activities, the time spent on individual activity was obtained by dividing the total time by number of activities. The activity classification was so developed that all the activities could be grouped into three categories i.e. those pertaining to System of National Accounts (SNA), extended SNA and Non-SNA. The results show that on the average male spent about 42 hours in SNA activities as compared to only about 19 hours by females. In the household & care related activities male spent only about 3.6 hours as compared to 34.6 hours by females. Therefore, female spent about ten times more time in extended activities as compared to male. In Non- SNA activities, which pertain to learning, leisure and personal care, male spent about 8 hours more as compared to females. On the average 71 % of the time is spent in Non- SNA activities. The SNA and extended-SNA activities contribute for 18 % and 11 % of total time, respectively.

Women spent about 2.1 hour per day on cooking food and about 1.1 hour on cleaning the households and utensils. Participation of men in these activities was just nominal. Taking care of children was also mainly the women’s responsibility as they spent about 3.16 hours per week on these activities as compared to only 0.32 hours by males. Women reported less than 1 hour of time spent on activities relating to shopping, pet care, teaching own children, accompanying children to places, care of sick and elderly, supervising children and care of guests. In case of personal hygiene also men spent 1 hour more than women. Men in all the 6 states spent much more time than women in reading newspaper, listening to music, smoking and drinking intoxicants and physical exercise. Almost about 1 hour was spent by men and women per day in gossiping and talking. It is heartening to note that both men and women spent about ¾ of an hour per week on meditation.

Decision making

An important aspect in the empowerment of women is the extent of their involvement in the process of decision making whether in the household or in the government. The Panchayati Raj System in India is adopted as a means for providing more representative democratic governance system in India. There are nearly 37% elected women representative at each level of Panchayati Raj System but district panchayat has highest 36.98% elected women representative in 2007.

In 1998, about 7% of ever married women in urban areas and about 10% of them in rural areas (about 9.4% in all) were not involved in any decision making in the household.

In the 2004 General Election, about 53.6% of women electors and about 62.2% of male electors participated in the elections. Even though the share of women in the total number of contestants in the general elections has been lower than men, the winning percentage (i.e. the number of winning contestants out of total contestants) has been higher for women (12.7%) than that for men (9.8%).

Percentage share of women employees in the central/ state government and local bodies has been increasing steadily over the years. But still the share of women employees remain as low as 8.15% in central government, 19.8% in state government and about 26% in local bodies.

Crime against women

Development and crimes go together. Crimes committed against women are a universal phenomenon prevalent in every region and society in one form or the other, irrespective of the social or economic class to which the women belong. It is very difficult to acquire accurate data on violence against women because of the social, cultural and legal barriers, lack of evidences and amount of secrecy and sensitivity involved.

In India, there has been a continuous rise in the total incidences of crimes committed against women over the years. The crime against women has increased during 2007 by 4.7% over 2006. The IPC component of crimes against women accounted for about 93% of total crimes and the rest 7% were Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes against women. What is most disturbing is the fact that about 11.11% of the rape victims in 2007 were under 14 years of age, while 28.14% were teenaged girls (14-18 years). Cruelty by husband and relatives accounts for the maximum proportion (41%) of the crimes against women. Importation of girls is another crime which has registered a significant decrease compared to earlier years.


Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India

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