Women in India: Statistical Indicators, 2007

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Female population

As per Census 2001, at all India level, the total population consists of 37.1% rural males, 35.08 % rural females, 14.64 % urban males and 13.18 % urban females.

The total female population (all ages) is 49.6 crores which constitute 48.26 % of the country’s total population. (1 Crore = 10 Million)

The total women count (female >14 yrs.) is 32.23 Crores which is 31.34 % of the total population.

Among the female population, 35.07 % are girl children (<= 14years), 57.10 % are women aged 15-60 years and 7.83 % are elderly women (>= 60 years).

The woman and child population (child 0-14 yrs.) is 68.59 crores which is 66.69 % of the total population.

Rural female population

Of the 49.6 crores females, 36.09 crores live in rural areas.

Female population by religion

Hindu 38.78 %; Muslim 6.5 %; Christian 1.18 %; Sikh 0.88 %; Buddhist 0.38 %; Jain 0.20 %; Others 0.32 %

Females belonging to minority religions (religions except Hinduism) constitute 9.46% of the total population.

Female population by caste / tribe

Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes population constitutes 24.39 % of the total population. While 24.25 % of the total male population belongs to SC/ST category, 24.8 % of the total female population belongs to these categories.

Sex ratio

As per Census Reports (1951-2001) the sex ratio has shown

A decrease of 13 points (from 946 in 1951 to 933 in 2001) for All India

A decrease of 19 points (from 965 in 1951 to 946 in 2001) for Rural India

An increase of 40 points (from 860 in 1951to 900 in 2001) for Urban India

Among the important religious communities, sex ratio is highest in Christianity (1009) and lowest in Sikhism (893)

Life expectancy at birth

During 2001-05, females have reported higher expectation of life at birth than males, i.e. the life expectation of females is 66.1 yrs. whereas for males it is 63.8 yrs. The respective projected values for 2021-25 are 72.3 yrs. and 69.8 yrs.


As per Census 2001, at all India level, in the total literate population, 68.09 % are literates but below matric/ secondary.

Among male literates, 65.55% are below matric/ secondary whereas 71.91% female literates are below matric / secondary.

As per Census 2001, at all India level, in the total rural population, 48.74 % are literates. 58.58 % of the total rural male population is literates and 38.33 % of the total rural female population is literates.

At all India level, as per Census 2001, out of the total urban population, 69.49 % are literates. In the total urban male population, 75.04 % are literates and in the total urban female population, 63.32 % are literates.

As per Census 2001, at all India level, female literacy rates in the total population was 53.7% while the Gender Gap in literacy (7+ age group) was 21.6 %; in the Scheduled Castes the figures were 41.9 % and 24.7 % respectively; and in the Scheduled Tribes the figures were 34.8 % and 24.4 % respectively.

The literacy rate for females is highest in Jainism (90.58%) followed by Christianity (76.19 %), Sikhism (63.09 %), Buddhism (61.69 %), Hinduism (53.21%) and Islam (50.09%)

The gender gap in literacy rate is lowest in Jainism (6.83 %) and highest in Hinduism (22.95 %)


As per NFHS-3, (2005-06), at all India level, 52.5% of currently married women participate in household decisions.

As on 9/1/2007, women members constitute only 9.07% of the National Parliament.

In 2004, 47.95% of the total electors were females.

While percentage of electors (male & female) participating in the elections showed an increasing trend during the 10th to 12th Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) elections, it showed a decreasing trend from 12th to 14th Lok Sabha elections.

At all India level, 65 % of women (15-49 yrs) and 80% of men (15-49 yrs) have media exposure. As per NFHS-3 (2005-06), only 54 % of the rural women have exposure to media (TV, radio or newspaper once in a week) whereas 87% of the urban women have exposure to media.

Female headed households

As per Census 2001, at all India level, 10.35 % households are female headed and the average size of female headed households is 4.00 whereas the average household size for male headed households is 5.4.

As per Census 2001, at all India level, out of every 1000 households, currently married males head a vast majority of households i.e. 835, followed by the category of ‘widowed’ where from 68 are female headed.

Economic activity

As per Census 2001, the work participation rate (WPR) for females is 25.7 % whereas that of males is 51.9 %.

As per Census 2001, Indian female population consists of 14.68% main workers, 10.95% marginal workers and the remaining 74.37% non workers.

50.16 lakhs (5.16 million) women were employed in the organized sector (public sector-58.23%, Private Sector- 41.77%) as on 31/3/2005.

As per the fifth Economic Census 2005, at all India level, percentage of total adult female workers in the total persons employed is 19.3 %.

As per NSSO (2004-05), at all India level, the share of women in wage employment in non agricultural sector is 20.23 % in 2004-05 vis-a- vis 16 % in 1999-2000.

Average wage earnings received per day by female casual labourers in 1999-2000 were Rs. 29.01 (gender gap: Rs.15.83) in rural areas and Rs. 37.71 (gender gap: Rs. 24.55) in urban areas. [USD 1 = Indian Rupees (Rs) 45]

Average wage earnings received per day by female casual labourers in 2004-2005 were Rs. 36.15 (gender gap: Rs. 20.38) in rural areas and Rs. 44.28 (gender gap: Rs. 31.23) in urban areas.

Even though there is a hike in average wage earning received per day by female casual labourers both in rural and urban areas, the gender gap also increased from Rs.15.83 to Rs.20.38 in rural areas and from Rs. 24.55 to Rs. 31.23 in urban areas in 2004-05 compared to 1999-2000 (NSSO surveys).

As per Census of Central Government Employees, in 2001, the female employment in Central Government is 2.92 lakhs (292,000) which is only 7.53 % of the total employment in Central Government.

Female job seekers constitute 26.95 % of the total job seekers registered with employment exchanges (as in 2005).

Marriage, divorce and widowhood

As per NFHS-3 (2005-06), 44.5 % of the recently married women were married by age 18 yrs. (28.1 %- urban, 52.5 % - rural) whereas 29.3 % of the recently married men were married by 21 yrs. (16.7 % -urban, 36.5 % - rural). The Urban –Rural gap in both cases is very significant.

The share of ever married females aged less than 18 yrs in the total female population of the same age group is 2.51% whereas, the share of ever married males aged less than 21 yrs. in the total male population of the same age group is 2.73%.

At all India level, in 2004, the mean age at effective marriage for those females who married < 18 years is 16.3 yrs.

The incidence of crime under the Child Marriage Restraint Act has shown an increase of 32% in 2005 (number of cases-122) vis-a-vis number of cases (93) in 2004.

There are 342.9 lakhs (34.29 million) widows in India. Of them 72.75 % live in rural areas.

The widowed/divorced/separated female population constitutes 7.38% in the all India female population.

Maternal health and mortality

As per NFHS results, at all India level, the percentage of ever married women aged 15-49 years who are aneamic increased to 56.2 % in 2005-06 from 51.8 % in 1998-99.

Percentage of pregnant women aged 15-49 years who are aneamic increased to 57.9 % in 2005-06 from 49.7 % in 1998-99.

For 33.0 % of ever married women, Body Mass Index (BMI) is below normal where as 28.1 % of ever married men reported BMI below normal.

14.8 % of ever married women are over weight / obese vis- a-vis 12.1 % over weight / obese ever married men.

As per NFHS-3 (2005-06), At all India level, 50.7% mothers had at least 3 antenatal check ups and 36.4 % mothers received post natal care from any health personnel within 2 days of delivery for their last birth. There is a significant urban - rural gap in ante natal and post natal care received by mothers.

The percentage of institutional deliveries in 2005-06 vis-à-vis 1998-99 has shown an increase but still 59.3% deliveries are not conducted in Institutions.

The percentage of safe deliveries in 2005-06 vis-à-vis 1998-99 has also shown an increase, but still 51.7 % deliveries are not conducted safely.

For 2001-03, the highest percentage of maternal deaths was in the age group 20-24 yrs (29%) whereas the age group of females with highest percentage of non- maternal deaths is 45-49 yrs as per Special Survey of Deaths.

In 2001-03, the majority of maternal deaths were due to hemorrhage (38%) where as abortions caused 8% of the maternal deaths.

Fertility rates

In 2005-06, total fertility rate (TFR) at all India level reported 2.68, which is a decline from 2.85 of 1998-99.

The illiterate – literate gap in TFR in all India, rural & urban is 1.7, 1.6 and 1.4 respectively.

Contraceptive use

The percentage of contraceptive use among currently married women (aged 15-49 years) has increased to 56% in 2005-06 from 48% in 1998-99. However, 44% at all India level (47 % in rural, 36 % in urban) of the currently married women aged 15-49 yrs are not using any contraceptives.

Elderly women

At all India level, as per Census 2001, out of the total population, 7.45 % are persons aged 60+ years. The share of elderly (60+yrs) male, female in their respective population totals are 7.1 % and 7.82 % respectively.

As per Census 2001, the old age dependency ratio at all India level for females is 13.77 whereas for males is 12.45.

Majority of the elderly females are fully dependent on others in both rural & urban areas whereas majority of the elderly males are economically independent in both rural & urban areas.


57 % of ever married women (15-49 yrs) have heard of AIDS whereas the corresponding figure for men is 80 % with a significant urban - rural gap.

The percentage of ever married women (15-49 yrs) who know that consistent condom use can reduce the chances of getting

HIV/ AIDS (34.7 %) was significantly low compared to men’s awareness level (68.1%).

As per NFHS-3, in 2005-06, HIV prevalence rate is higher in urban areas than rural areas for men and women.

The percentage of HIV positive Ante natal mothers aged 15—49 years was 0.88 (2005).


As per Census 2001, at all India level, among the total disabled persons, 57.54% are males and 42.46 % are females

As high as 75.03 % of the female disabled live in rural areas

Majority of the disabled females have vision difficulties (52.71 %) followed by disability in movement (23.68%).

Crime against women

NFHS-3, (2005-06) reported that at all India level, 37.2 % of ever married women have experienced spousal violence.

The proportion of crime against women to total IPC (Indian Penal Code) crimes is showing an increasing trend during 2001-2006. In 2006, out of the total IPC crimes, 8.8 % are crime against women.

Among the crimes committed against women in 2006, the crimes of torture and molestation together constitute 60.53%.

There is an increase of 14.58 % in crimes against women in 2006 over 2001.

Female prison inmates

As in 2005, 3.9 % of the total jail inmates are females and 3.3 % of the total convicts are females.


In 23.35% of the accidental death cases that happened in 2006, the victims were females.


In 2006, 42410 females committed suicide which is 35.91 % of the total suicides committed in the country.

The age group witnessing highest number of female suicides in 2005 is 15-29 yrs. (45.88%) followed by 30-44 yrs. (30.39 %).

Death rate

In 2004, at all India level, Crude Death Rate (all ages) was lower for females (7.0) than males (8.0).

As per SRS 2004, the age specific death rate of females is higher than males in the age groups 0-4 yrs., 1-4 yrs., 15-19 yrs. and 20-24 yrs.

Projected female population, year 2026

In 2026, the female population in India is projected as 67.466 crores or 674.66 million, which is nearly 48 % of the total projected population.


A Handbook of Statistical Indicators on Indian Women 2007

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