Resource centre on India's rural distress
 
 

GENDER

KEY TRENDS

 

• Maternal Mortality Ratio for India was 370 in 2000, 286 in 2005, 210 in 2010, 158 in 2015 and 145 in 2017. Therefore, the MMRatio for the country decreased by almost 61 percent between 2000 and 2017 *14 

 

• As per the NSS 71st round, among rural females aged 5-29 years, the main reasons for dropping out/ discontinuance were: engagement in domestic activities, not interested in education, financial constraints and marriage. Among rural males aged 5-29 years, the main reasons for dropping out/ discontinuance were: engagement in economic activities, not interested in education and financial constraints *13

• Infant Mortality Rate in India for females has declined from 64 in 2003 to 42 in 2013, while for males it has declined from 57 to 39 during the same span, as per the Sample Registration System *13

• Based on a survey by Catalyst Inc. Knowledge Center during March 2014, the ILO report informs that India is among 13 countries, which has less than 5 percent of company board seats occupied by women *12

• Based on a study from Spencer Stuart titled 'India Board Index 2012, Current board trends and practices in the BSE-100', the present ILO report - 'Women in Business and Management' informs that nearly 4.0 percent of CEOs in Indian public listed companies during 2012 were women *12

• In 2014, women occupied only 7 out of 45 Ministerial positions in the Central Council of Ministers, which is a little more than 15%, against around 10% women participation in 2004. 62 females have been elected in 2014 Elections constituting more than 11% share in the Lower House. In the states, women share is only 8% in assemblies and only 4% in State Councils. In the Panchayat setup, overall 46.7% women are present; with maximum 58.6% in Jharkhand and minimum 32.3% in Goa as on 1st March, 2013 *11
 
• Indian laws that ban child marriage, pre-natal sex selection tests and dowries are poorly implemented. There are laws existing in India that exclude daughters and widows from inheriting land. There are some Indian laws that promote a preference for sons over daughters *10

• The sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males) at the national level is 943 in 2011. Rural sex ratio is 949 and the urban is 929. Among the States, Kerala at 1084 has the highest sex ratio followed by Puducherry at 1037. Daman and Diu has the lowest sex ratio of 618 in the country *9

• Larger and more representative cohort studies from Africa and India show an association between experience of intimate partner violence and biologically confirmed incident HIV/ other STIs ((sexually transmitted infection) *8

• Brides who are tied in a knot in cross-region marriages in Haryana and Rajasthan are subject to heightened surveillance, which varies from total confinement to restriction of their movement within the village. The degree to which this is enforced depends on the a) mode through which the bride has been sourced, i.e., whether she is trafficked, coerced or married with her parent’s approval; b) duration of the marriage; c) amount invested by the family in the marriage; and d) whether she has children or not from this marriage *7

• Maternal mortality ratio (i.e. the number of deaths to women per 100,000 live births which result from conditions related to pregnancy, delivery, the postpartum period, and related complications) in India stood at 200 in 2010 as compared to 37 in China *6

• 57 percent of adolescent Indian boys (15-19 years) justified wife-beating by husband as compared to 53 percent female adolescents during 2002-2010 *5

• A survey of 405 Indian women who were either separated or divorced or deserted which was done by a team of researchers, women’s rights activists and lawyers, for the Economic Research Foundation of India between October 2008 and September 2009 shows that despite maintenance provisions most women are financially dependent on their natal families and 63% live with natal families, usually parents. The miserable financial status of separated and divorced women is evident from the fact that even after separation 41.5% had no income and 27.4% earned less than Rs. 2000 per month *4

• Among the crimes committed against women in 2008, torture shares the highest percentage (42%), followed by molestation (21%). 11.0% cases are that of rape, 11.7% of kidnapping and abduction, and 1.0% of Immoral Trafficking. It is also significant to note that 6.0% cases are of sexual harassment and 4.1% of Dowry deaths *3

• A fifth of married women in India are not involved in spending decisions, even about their own incomes. Reforms to inheritance laws in India resulted in delays in marriage for girls, more education (increasing the number of years of schooling by an average of 11–25 percent), and lower dowry payments *2

• In 11 of 13 countries with data—including India, Romania, Sierra Leone, Sweden, and the United States—women make up less than 20 percent of the police force *2

• Under-five mortality rate for girls in India in 2008 was 73 per 1,000 live births, compared to 65 for boys. In China, the rate for girls was 24, compared to 18 for boys *1

 

14. Trends in Maternal Mortality 2000 to 2017: Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Groups and the United Nations Population Division (released in September 2019), please click here and click here to access

 
13. Women and Men in India 2015, which has been produced by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (please click chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6 and chapter 7
 
12. Women in Business and Management: Gaining Momentum (published in January 2015), ILO (Please click here to access)
 
11. Women and Men in India 2014, 16th Issue prepared by the Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (Please click here to download Foreword & Preface ; Index ; Highlights ; Constitutional and Legal Rights ; Chapter 1 ; Chapter 2 ; Chapter 3 ; Chapter 4 ; Chapter 5 ; Chapter 6 ; Chapter 7 ; and Explanatory Notes )
 
10. "The Law and Son Preference in India: A Reality Check" by Advocate Kirti Singh, United Nations, November, 2013 (please click here to download)

9. Women and Men in India 2013, 15th Issue, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (please click to download part 1 and part 2 of the report)

8. Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women: Prevalence and Health Effects of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-partner Sexual Violence (2013), prepared by WHO, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and South African Medical Research Council, please click here to access

7. Tied in a Knot: Cross-region Marriages in Haryana and Rajasthan-Implications for Gender Rights and Gender Relations written by Reena Kukreja and Paritosh Kumar (2013) and produced by The Royal Norwegian Embassy, please click here to access
 
6. The State of World Population 2012:  By Choice, Not by Chance-Family Planning, Human Rights and Development, UNFPA, please click here to access

5. Progress for Children: A Report Card on Adolescents (UNICEF), Number 10, April, 2012, please click here to access 

4. The Economic Rights & Entitlements of Separated and Divorced Women India (2012), please click here to access 

3. Women and Men in India 2011, 13th issue, MoSPI,

2. World Development Report 2012-Gender Equality and Development, brought out by the World Bank, please click here to access

1. Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice 2011-12, UN-Women, please click here to access

 

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The ending preventable maternal mortality (EPMM) target for reducing the global maternal mortality ratio (MMRatio) by 2030 was adopted as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target 3.1: reduce global MMRatio to less than 70 per lakh live births by 2030. Having targets for mortality reduction is important, but accurate measurement of maternal mortality remains challenging and many deaths still go uncounted. Many countries still lack well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, and where such systems do exist, reporting errors – whether incompleteness (unregistered deaths, also known as “missing”) or misclassification of cause of death – continue to pose a major challenge to data accuracy. The report entitled 'Trends in Maternal Mortality 2000 to 2017: Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Groups and the United Nations Population Division' presents internationally comparable global, regional and country-level estimates and trends for maternal mortality between 2000 and 2017.

The new estimates presented in this report supersede all previously published estimates for years that fall within the same time period. Care should be taken to use only these estimates for the interpretation of trends in maternal mortality from 2000 to 2017; due to modifications in methodology and data availability, differences between these and previous estimates should not be interpreted as representing time trends. In addition, when interpreting changes in MMRatios over time, one should take into consideration that it is easier to reduce the MMRatio when the level is high than when the MMRatio level is already low.

Please note that Maternal Mortality Ratio is the number of women who die from pregnancy-related causes while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy termination per 100,000 live births.

The key findings of the report entitled [inside]Trends in Maternal Mortality 2000 to 2017: Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, World Bank Groups and the United Nations Population Division (released in September 2019)[/inside] are as follows (please click here and click here to access): 

• Nigeria and India had the highest estimated numbers of maternal deaths, accounting for approximately one-third (35 percent) of estimated global maternal deaths in 2017, with approximately 67,000 and 35,000 maternal deaths (23 percent and 12 percent of global maternal deaths), respectively.

• Maternal Mortality Ratio for India was 370 in 2000, 286 in 2005, 210 in 2010, 158 in 2015 and 145 in 2017. Therefore, the MMRatio for the country fell by almost 61 percent between 2000 and 2017.

• MMRatio for China was 59 in 2000, 44 in 2005, 36 in 2010, 30 in 2015 and 29 in 2017. Hence, the MMRatio for China reduced by around 51 percent between 2000 and 2017.  

• The absolute difference in MMRatio between India and China has lessened from 311 in 2000 to 116 in 2017. The country's MMRatio was 6.3 times that of China in 2000, which has reduced to 5 times in 2017.

• MMRatio for Bangladesh was 434 in 2000, 343 in 2005, 258 in 2010, 200 in 2015 and 173 in 2017. Therefore, the MMRatio for Bangladesh declined by nearly 60 percent between 2000 and 2017.  

• The absolute gap in MMRatio between Bangladesh and India has reduced from 64 in 2000 to 28 in 2017.

• MMRatio for Sri Lanka was 56 in 2000, 45 in 2005, 38 in 2010, 36 in 2015 and 36 in 2017. So, the MMRatio for Sri Lanka decreased by roughly 36 percent between 2000 and 2017.  

• MMRatio for Pakistan was 286 in 2000, 237 in 2005, 191 in 2010, 154 in 2015 and 140 in 2017. Thus, the MMRatio for Pakistan reduced by roughly 51 percent between 2000 and 2017.  

 

• MMRatio for South Asia was 395 in 2000, 309 in 2005, 235 in 2010, 179 in 2015 and 163 in 2017. Hence, the MMRatio for South Asia fell by around 59 percent between 2000 and 2017.   

 

• Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia accounted for approximately 86 percent (2,54,000) of the estimated global maternal deaths in 2017 with sub-Saharan Africa alone accounting for roughly 66 percent (1,96,000), while Southern Asia accounted for nearly 20 percent (58,000). South-Eastern Asia, in addition, accounted for over 5 percent of global maternal deaths (16,000).
 

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According to the report entitled: [inside]Women and Men in India 2015[/inside], which has been produced by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (please click chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6 and chapter 7):

Population

• Sex Ratio (for all ages) in urban areas stood at 929 while in rural areas the same stood at 949 during 2011. Sex ratio means the number of females per 1000 males.

• Sex Ratio in India (for all ages) has declined from 946 in 1951 to 943 in 2011.

• For the age-group 0-6 years, sex ratio has declined from 934 in 2001 to 918 in 2011.

• Sex Ratio at Birth has declined from 903 in 2007 to 898 in 2013, as per Civil Registration System.

• During 2011, Sex Ratio among Hindus is 939, Muslims is 951, Christians is 1023, Sikhs is 903, Buddhists is 965 and Jains is 954.

• Sex Ratio among adolescent (10-19 years) is 898 and youth (15-24 years) is 908.

• The number of female headed households per 1000 households in rural areas has increased from 97 during 1993-94 to 115 during 2011-12, while in urban areas it has increased from 106 to 124 during the same time span.

• Out of the total female population, 42.7 percent are never married, 49 percent are married and 8.3 percent are Widowed/ Divorced/ Separated. Out of the total male population, 52.5 percent are never married, 45.2 percent are married and 2.3 percent are Widowed/ Divorced/ Separated.

• As per the Sample Registration System, women's mean age at marriage has risen from 20.7 years in 2009 to 21.3 years in 2013.

Health

• General Fertility Rate has reduced from 83.9 in 2010 to 78.5 in 2013. General fertility rate is defined as number of live births per thousand women in the age group (15-49 years) in a given year.

• Total Fertility Rate has reduced from 2.5 in 2010 to 2.3 in 2013. Total fertility rate is defined as the average number of children that would be born to a woman if she experiences the current fertility pattern throughout her reproductive span (15-49 years).

• As the educational level of the mother goes up, the Total Fertility Rate goes down. For example, the TFR among illiterate mother is 3.1 and for mother who are Graduate and above is 1.7 during 2013.

• In 2013, the percentage share of births that received medical attention during delivery in 'Government hospitals' was 50 percent, in 'Private hospitals' was 24.4 percent, by 'qualified professionals' was 12.7 percent and by 'Untrained functionary and others' was 12.9 percent.

• Infant Mortality Rate in India has declined from 47 per 1000 live births in 2010 to 40 per 1000 live births in 2013. IMR is defined as the number of deaths under one year of age per 1000 live births.

• Infant Mortality Rate in India for females has declined from 64 in 2003 to 42 in 2013, while for males it has declined from 57 to 39 during the same span, as per the Sample Registration System.

• Life Expectancy at birth for females has improved from 60.4 in 1990-94 to 69.3 in 2009-13. Life Expectancy at birth for males has improved from 59.4 in 1990-94 to 65.8 in 2009-13, as per the Sample Registration System.

• Maternal Mortality Ratio in India has declined from 301 during 2001-03 to 167 during 2011-13, as per the Office of the Registrar General, India. Maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is the number of maternal deaths during a given time period per 100000 live births during the same time period.

Literacy and Education

• In rural areas, female literacy rate stood at 58.75 percent against 78.57 percent among males during 2011. In urban areas, female literacy rate stood at 79.92 percent against 89.67 percent among males. At the national level, female literacy rate was 65.46 percent while male literacy rate was 82.14 percent.   

• In rural areas, literacy rate among scheduled caste females stood at 52.6 percent against 72.6 percent among SC males during 2011. In urban areas, literacy rate among SC females stood at 68.6 percent against 83.3 percent among SC males during 2011. At the national level, literacy rate among SC females stood at 56.5 percent against 75.2 percent among SC males during 2011.  

• In rural areas, literacy rate among scheduled tribe females stood at 46.9 percent against 66.8 percent among ST males during 2011. In urban areas, literacy rate among ST females stood at 70.3 percent against 83.2 percent among ST males during 2011. At the national level, literacy rate among ST females stood at 49.35 percent against 68.53 percent among ST males during 2011.  

• At the national level, the gender gap in male-female literacy rate has reduced from 24.8 in 1991 to 21.6 in 2001 and further to 16.7 in 2011.

• The Gender Parity Index in adult literacy rate (age 15 years and above) has improved from 32 percent in 1961 to 75 percent in 2011. Gender Parity Index is defined as the ratio of female to male literacy rate, expressed in percentage.

• Gross Enrolment Ratio for females in Primary Classes I-V (6-10 years) has improved from 86.9 percent in 2001-02 to 100.6 percent in 2013-14 while for males it has declined from 105.3 percent in 2001-02 to 98.1 percent in 2013-14. Gross Enrolment Ratio is the ratio of total enrolment in a particular class to the total population of all persons who belong to the age-group that should ideally be in that class, expressed in percentage. 

• Gross Enrolment Ratio for females in Middle Classes VI-VIII (11-13 Years) has improved from 52.09 percent in 2001-02 to 90.3 percent in 2013-14 while for males it has increased from 67.8 percent in 2001-02 to 84.9 percent in 2013-14.

• Gross Enrolment Ratio for females in Higher Secondary Classes IX-XII (14-18 Years) has improved from 27.7 percent in 2001-02 to 96.9 percent in 2013-14 while for males it has increased from 38.2 percent in 2001-02 to 93.3 percent in 2013-14.

• The number of girls per 100 boys enrolled in school for primary classes (I-V) has improved from 78 in 2000-01 to 93 in 2014-15. The sex ratio of girls per 100 boys enrolled in school for middle classes (VI-VIII) has increased from 69 in 2000-01 to 95 in 2014-15.  The sex ratio of girls per 100 boys enrolled in school for secondary classes (IX-X) has increased from 63 in 2000-01 to 90 in 2014-15.

• Drop-out rate for females in Classes I-X has fallen from 71.5 percent in 2000-01 to 46.7 percent in 2013-14 while for males it has declined from 66.4 percent in 2000-01 to 48.1 percent in 2013-14.

• The average expenditure per student pursuing general education at all levels (excluding graduation and post-graduation & above) has been higher for male students as compared to female students in rural areas, as per the 71st round of National Sample Survey conducted in 2014.

• As per the 71st round of NSS conducted in 2014, among general education, most girl students are enrolled in Humanities (54.3 percent), followed by Science (27.8 percent) and then Commerce (18 percent). However, most boy students too are enrolled in Humanities (45.7 percent), followed by Science (34.5 percent) and then Commerce (19.8 percent).

• The number of females per 100 males in Arts stream in university has increased from 81.4 in 2000-01 to 86 in 2009-10; in Science stream it has risen from 61.4 to 72.7 during the same time span; in Commerce it went up from 55.3 to 67.3; in Engineering and Technical Education it has increased from 28.7 to 40.3; and in Medicine it has gone up from 68.2 in 2000-01 to 90.9 in 2009-10. 

• The number of female teachers per 100 male teachers has increased from 55 in 2000-01 to 88 in 2013-14 in primary schools; from 62 to 83 during the same time span in middle schools and from 54 to 74 in secondary/ intermediate schools.

• As per the NSS 71st round, among rural females aged 5-29 years, the main reasons for dropping out/ discontinuance were: engagement in domestic activities, not interested in education, financial constraints and marriage. Among rural males aged 5-29 years, the main reasons for dropping out/ discontinuance were: engagement in economic activities, not interested in education and financial constraints.  

• As per the NSS 71st round, among urban females aged 5-29 years, the main reasons for dropping out/ discontinuance were: engagement in domestic activities, marriage, financial constraints, not interested in education and attained education upto to the desired level. Among urban males aged 5-29 years, the main reasons for dropping out/ discontinuance were: engagement in economic activities, financial constraints and not interested in education. 

Participation in Economy

• The Female Workforce Participation Rate of women was 25.51 while that of men was 53.26 during 2011. Workforce participation rate is defined as the proportion of workers in the population.

• The Female Workforce Participation Rate in rural areas was 30.0 percent while that in urban areas was 15.4 percent during 2011.

• The National Sample Survey (68th Round) results indicate that the worker to population ratio for females in rural areas was 24.8 in 2011-12 and 54.3 for males (based on usual status approach). In urban areas, the ratio was 14.7 for females and 54.6 for males.

• The Labour Force Participation Rate in rural areas was 25.3 percent for females and 55.3 percent for males during the 68th round of NSS (based on usual status approach and includes principal status and subsidiary status persons of all ages). In 2011-12, the Labour Force Participation Rate in urban areas was 15.5 percent for females and 56.3 percent for males. Labour Force Participation Rate is defined as the proportion of persons/person-days in the labour force to the total person/person-days.

• Unemployment rate in rural areas for females was 2.9 percent and males was 2.1 percent (usual principal status of individuals of all ages). Unemployment rate in urban areas for females was 6.6 percent and males was 3.2 percent.

• The unemployment rate is 4.9 percent for females as compared to 2.9 percent for males aged 15 years and above, as per the 4th Employment-Unemployment Survey conducted in 2013-14 (based on Usual Principal & Subsidiary Status Approach).

• The percentage share of women who have registered for jobs (out of total live register) in the employment exchanges has increased from 26 percent in 2003 to 34.9 percent in 2012.

• As on March, 2014, roughly 20 percent of officers in Scheduled Commercial Banks were women as compared to 29 percent being employed as clerks and 12 percent being employed as subordinates. Nearly, 22 percent of those employed in Scheduled Commercial Banks were women.

• As on March, 2014, nearly 27.46 percent of accounts in Scheduled Commercial Banks belonged to women. Deposits in these accounts comprised 16.05 percent of total deposited amount. 

• As per the 68th round of NSS, for casual labourers aged 15-59 years, the average national daily wage earned by females was Rs. 103.28 while that earned by males was Rs. 149.32 in works other than 'public work' in rural areas. The average national daily wage earned by females was Rs. 110.62 while that earned by males was Rs. 127.39 in public works other than MGNREGA (in rural areas). The average national daily wage earned by females was Rs. 112.46 while that earned by males was Rs. 101.97 in MGNREGA works. The average national daily wage earned by females was Rs. 182.04 while that earned by males was Rs. 110.62 in works other than 'public works' (in urban areas).

• The average Wage/Salary received per day by Regular Wage/Salaried Employees was Rs. 201.56 for females and 322.28 for males in rural areas, as per the NSS 68th round. The average Wage/Salary received per day by Regular Wage/Salaried Employees was Rs. 366.15 for females and 469.87 for males in urban areas.

Participation in Decision Making

• In 2015, 8 out of 45 women occupied Ministerial positions in the Central Council of Ministers, more than 17 percent against around 10 percent women participation in 2004. Altogether 62 females were elected in 2014 Parliamentary Elections, constituting more than 11 percent share in the Lower House.

• The percentage of female electors participating in elections has improved from 46.6 percent during the Third General Election to 65.6 percent during the Sixteenth General Election. The percentage of male electors participating in Elections has improved from 62 percent during the Third General Election to 67.1 percent during the Sixteenth General Election. 

• Between the Second and the Fifteenth General Elections, female candidates exceeded males in terms of chances of winning (which is equal to ratio of total elected to total number contesting).

• The overall participation of women in state assemblies is 9 percent and in councils is 6 percent.

• As on 1 October 2015, the percentage of women judges in High Courts and Supreme Court of India stood at 11 percent.

• Among the all-India and Central Group-A Services, 30 percent females were in Indian Economic Service (in 2014), 28 percent in Indian Forest Service (in 2010), 24 percent in Indian Audit & Accounts Service (in 2012), 22 percent in both Indian Information Service (in 2013) and Indian Postal Service (in 2014), 19 percent in Indian Foreign Service (in 2014), 15 percent in Indian Statistical Service (in 2012), 14 percent in Indian Administrative Service (in 2012), and only 12 percent in Indian Trade Service (in 2014).

Social Obstacles in Women's Empowerment

• The percentage share of crime committed against Indian women (of all crimes) was 2 percent in 2000, 2 percent in 2005, 3 percent in 2010, 4 percent in 2011, 4 percent in 2012, 5 percent in 2013 and 5 percent in 2014.

• Out of the total cases of reported crimes against women in 2014, 36 percent cases were related to 'Cruelty by Husband and Relatives' (Sec.498-A IPC), 24 percent cases related to 'Assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty' (Sec.354 IPC), 17 percent cases related to 'Kidnapping & Abduction' (Sec.363 to 373 IPC), and 11 percent cases were related to 'Rape' (Sec. 376 IPC).

• Nearly 69 percent of total cases for investigation (related to crime committed against women) got disposed in 2014.

• Out of the total number of cases (related to crime committed against women) for trial, in only 9 percent cases there was conviction during 2014.

• Out of the total number cases related to crime against women during 2014, most were committed in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh (both 11 percent).

• Most rape victims in 2014 came from the states of Madhya Pradesh (13 percent), followed by Rajasthan (10 percent), Uttar Pradesh (9 percent) and Maharashtra (9 percent).

• Most rape case victims (44 percent) were in the age-group of 18-30 years whereas 1 percent of all rape victims were under 6 years of age.

International Gender Perspective of Development Indicators

• Among the SAARC nations, sex ratio (no. of women per 100 men for all ages) stood at 93 in India as compared to 107 in Nepal, 105 in Sri Lanka, 99 in Maldives, 98 in Bangladesh, 97 in Afghanistan, and 95 in Pakistan. 

• Among SAARC nations, life expectancy at birth for women stood at 68 years in India as compared to 70 years in Nepal, 78 years in Sri Lanka, 79 years in Maldives, 72 years in Bangladesh, 62 years in Afghanistan, and 67 years in Pakistan. Life expectancy at birth for men stood at 65 years in India as compared to 67 years in Nepal, 72 years in Sri Lanka, 77 years in Maldives, 70 years in Bangladesh, 61 years in Afghanistan, and 65 years in Pakistan. Life expectancy at birth is an estimated number of years to be lived by a newborn, based on current age-specific mortality rates. 

• Among SAARC nations, mean age at marriage for women stood at 20 years in India (in 2006) as compared to 20 years in Nepal (in 2011), 24 years in Sri Lanka (in 2007), 22 years in Maldives (in 2009), 19 years in Bangladesh (in 2011), 22 years in Afghanistan (in 2010), and 23 years in Pakistan (in 2007).

• Among SAARC nations, the percentage of population aged 15-19 ever-married women stood at 28 percent in India (in 2006) as compared to 29 percent in Nepal (in 2011), 9 percent in Sri Lanka (in 2007), 6 percent in Maldives (in 2009), 46 percent in Bangladesh (in 2011), 17 percent in Afghanistan (in 2010), and 11 percent in Pakistan (in 2007).

• Among SAARC nations, the total fertility rate stood at 2.5 in India as compared to 2.3 in Nepal, 2.1 in Sri Lanka, 2.2 in Maldives, 2.2 in Bangladesh, 5.1 in Afghanistan, and 3.7 in Pakistan during the period 2010-2015. The total fertility rate is the number of children a woman would bear if her child-bearing follows the current fertility patterns and she lives through her entire child-bearing years.

• Among SAARC nations, the Infant Mortality Rate stood at 43.8 in India as compared to 33.6 in Nepal, 8.3 in Sri Lanka, 9 in Maldives, 33.1 in Bangladesh, 71 in Afghanistan, and 69.3 in Pakistan during the period 2010-2015. Infant mortality rate is the total number of infants dying before reaching the age of one year per 1,000 live births in a given year.

• Among SAARC nations, the length of maternity leave stood at 12 weeks in India as compared to 52 days in Nepal, 12 weeks in Sri Lanka, 16 weeks in Bangladesh, 90 days in Afghanistan, and 12 weeks in Pakistan.

 

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According to the ILO study entitled: [inside]Women in Business and Management: Gaining Momentum (published in January 2015)[/inside], which covers 80 of the 108 countries for which ILO data is available (Please click here to access):

Indian Situation

• Based on a study from Spencer Stuart titled 'India Board Index 2012, Current board trends and practices in the BSE-100', the present ILO report - 'Women in Business and Management' informs that nearly 4.0 percent of CEOs in Indian public listed companies during 2012 were women.

• Instead of legislating 'controversial' mandatory quotas for women on company boards, countries like India, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong China, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, UK and USA have adopted a variety of measures to promote more women in management, such as inclusion of gender diversity requirements and reporting in corporate governance codes, codes of conduct, voluntary targets and cooperative initiatives between business and government.

• Based on a survey by Catalyst Inc. Knowledge Center during March 2014, the ILO report informs that India is among 13 countries, which has less than 5 percent of company board seats occupied by women.

• According to the ILO report, Jamaica has the highest proportion of women managers at 59.3 percent while Yemen has the least with 2.1 percent. For its part, the United States is in 15th place in the list of 108 countries with 42.7 percent women managers while the United Kingdom occupies 41st place with 34.2 percent. No information on India is provided in this regard.

Global scenario

• The ILO company survey found that 87 percent of the boards of respondent companies had a man as president while 13 percent had a woman as president.

• The ILO company survey in the developing regions found that women were just over 20 percent of CEOs. The survey respondents were mostly middle to large national companies. This reflects that more women are able to reach top jobs in local companies as compared to large publically traded businesses and international companies.

• Over the past two decades women have attained 20 percent or more of all board seats in a handful of countries: Norway, which, at 13.3 percent, boasts the highest global proportion of companies with a woman as company chairperson, is closely followed by Turkey at 11.1 percent.

• The ILO company survey found that 30 percent of the respondent companies had no women on their boards, while 65 per cent in total had less than 30 percent women; 30 percent being often considered as the critical mass required for women’s voices and views to be taken into account. Thirteen percent had gender-balanced boards with between 40 and 60 percent of women.

• The ILO report shows that women still have to deal with a number of hurdles to reach positions as CEOs and company board members. While they have advanced in business and management, they continue to be shut out of higher level economic decision-making despite the last decade of activism to smash the “glass ceiling”.

• The glass ceiling that prevents women from reaching top positions in business and management may be showing cracks but it is still there. More women than ever before are managers and business owners, but there is still a dearth of women at the top of the corporate ladder. And the larger the company or organization, the less likely the head will be a woman – 5 percent or less of the CEOs of the world’s largest corporations are women.

• The ILO survey shows that attaining experience in managerial functions, such as operations, sales, research, product development and general management, is crucial for women to rise through the central pathway to the top of the organizational hierarchy. However, women are often siloed in managerial functions such as human resources, public relations and communications, and finance and administration, and are therefore only able to go up the ladder to a certain point in the organizational hierarchy.

• Among the sample responses in the ILO survey, ICT managers appeared to be men more often than not, while there were more women as quality control and procurement managers.

• The barriers to women’s leadership are: a. Women have more family responsibilities than men; b. Roles assigned by society to men and women; c. Masculine corporate culture; d. Women with insufficient general or line management experience; e. Few role models for women; f. Men not encouraged to take leave for family responsibilities; g. Lack of company equality policy and programmes; h. Stereotypes against women; i. Lack of leadership training for women; j. Lack of flexible work solutions; k. Lack of strategy for retention of skilled women; l. inherent gender bias in recruitment and promotion; m. Management generally viewed as a man’s job; n. Gender equality policies in place but not implemented; o. inadequate labour and non-discrimination laws

• The ILO report informs that today, women own and manage over 30 percent of all businesses, ranging from self-employed (or own account workers), micro and small enterprises to medium and large companies. However, women tend to be concentrated more in micro and small enterprises.

• The ILO report outlines a number of recommendations to close the remaining gender gap, including seeking ‘flexible solutions’ to manage work and family time commitments as an alternative to being subject to special treatment or quotas; providing maternity protection coverage and childcare support for professional women; ‘changing mind-sets’ to break cultural barriers and fight sexual harassment; and implementing gender-sensitive human resources policies and measures.

• A 2011 report of Catalyst found that Fortune 500 companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the least by 16 percent on return on sales.

• The 2011 report of Catalyst shows that companies with the most women on their boards outperformed those with the least by 26 per cent on return on invested capital.

• The 2011 report by Catalyst also shows that companies with high representation of women – three or more – on their boards over at least four to five years, significantly outperformed those with low representation by 84 percent on return on sales, by 60 percent on return on invested capital and by 46 percent on return on equity.

• A 2012 study by Credit Suisse shows that, over the previous six years, companies with at least one female board member outperformed by 26 percent those with no women on the board in terms of share price performance.

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The key findings of the report [inside]Women and Men in India 2014[/inside] (released in October, 2014), 16th Issue prepared by the Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation are as follows (Please click here to download Foreword & Preface ; Index ; Highlights ; Constitutional and Legal Rights ; Chapter 1 ; Chapter 2 ; Chapter 3 ; Chapter 4 ; Chapter 5 ; Chapter 6 ; Chapter 7 ; and Explanatory Notes ):

Population and related statistics

• There are 918 females to 1000 males in the age-group 0-6 years, with maximum disparity in sex ratio* of rural & urban area existing in Daman & Diu and Gujarat having lesser females in urban Area.

• As per National Sample Survey 68th Round (2011-12), 11.5% of total households in rural and 12.4% in urban were female headed households as compared to 9.7% and 10.6% during 1993-94.

Health

• Crude Birth Rate* and General Fertility Rate (GFR)* have reduced from 21.8 in 2011 to 21.6 in 2012 and 81.2 to 80.3 respectively.

• Total fertility Rate (TFR)* has also gone down from 2.8 in 2011 to 2.2 in 2012. TFR is more for illiterate women both in rural and urban area and decreases with increase in educational level.

Literacy and Education

• The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)* for females at the primary level stood at 102.65 compared with 100.20 for males in 2013-14. At the middle class level, the GER for females is 92.75 against 86.31 for males and at the higher secondary level, 51.58 and 52.77 is the gross enrolment ratio for females and males during 2013-14.

• There were 93 girls per 100 boys in primary classes, 95 in middles classes and 90 in secondary classes during 2013-14.

Participation in Economy

• As per Census 2011, the workforce participation rate* for females is 25.51% against 53.26% for males. Rural sector has a better female workforce participation rate of 30.02% compared with 53.03% for males in urban sector. The participation rate of females trails at 15.44% against 53.76% for males. 41.1% of female main and marginal workers are agricultural labourers, 24.0% are cultivators, 5.7% are household industry workers and 29.2% are engaged in other works.

• Only 20.5% women were employed in the organized sector in 2011 with 18.1% working in the public sector and 24.3% in the private. The labour force participation rate for women across all age groups was 25.3 in rural sector and 15.5 in urban sector compared with 55.3 and 56.3 for men in the rural and urban sectors respectively in 2011-12 (NSS 68th Round).

Participation in Decision Making

• In 2014, women occupied only 7 out of 45 Ministerial positions in the Central Council of Ministers, which is a little more than 15%, against around 10% women participation in 2004. 62 females have been elected in 2014 Elections constituting more than 11% share in the Lower House.

• In the states, women share is only 8% in assemblies and only 4% in State Councils.

• In the Panchayat setup, overall 46.7% women are present; with maximum 58.6% in Jharkhand and minimum 32.3% in Goa as on 1st March, 2013.

Social Obstacles in Women's Empowerment

• ‘Cruelty by husband and relatives’ continues to have the highest share (38%) followed by ‘assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty’ (23%). There has been a phenomenal increase (157%) in reporting of 'Indecent Representation of Women' Cases in 2013 over 2012. Five percent of the total cognizable crime falls under the category of crime against women in 2013 against 4% in 2012.

• The number of rape case victims had increased 90% in the age group of 50+ whereas 5% of all rape victims were under 10 years of age. 13% of the rape victims were in the state of Madhya Pradesh in 2013 and 46% of the total rape victims in India were in the age-group 18-30 years in 2013.

International Gender Perspective of Development Indicators

• Life Expectancy at birth* is best in Japan for men as well as women and worst in Afghanistan. Both the countries continue similar trends in life expectancy at 60 years of age.

• United States has largest (43%) women's share of legislators, senior officials and manager, while Pakistan has only 3% women as legislators, senior officials and manager.

In order to know more, please click here.

* Please click here for the definitions of the terms used.
 

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According to the report entitled "[inside]The Law and Son Preference in India: A Reality Check[/inside]" by Advocate Kirti Singh, United Nations, November, 2013 (please click here to download):

• Indian laws that ban child marriages, pre-natal sex selection tests and dowries are poorly implemented. There are laws existing in India that exclude daughters and widows from inheriting land. There are some Indian laws that promote a preference for sons over daughters.

• Women’s economic position is adverse as neither Indian law nor Government policy view their work within the home as productive work having economic value. Time Use studies by the Central Statistical Organisation provide evidence of the enormous amount of time spent by women in carrying out household activities. Non-recognition of household work and ‘care’ work reinforces gender discrimination and inequality.

• A study by Ministry of Women and Child Development (GoI) titled "Study on Child Abuse: India (2007)" shows that: a. A majority of the girls (70.57%) reported neglect of one form or the other by family members; b. Almost half the girls (48.4%) said that they sometimes wished they were a boy. This perhaps indicated “the overall gender discrimination” they faced; c. A majority of the girls (70.38%) reported doing more household work like cleaning/ dusting of the house and drawing of water compared to their brothers; d. Almost 49 per cent of the girls reported that they had to take care of their younger siblings; e. The overall percentage of girls who reported getting less food than their brothers was 27.33 per cent. In the states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar, however, the reported percentages were 69.04 percent, 67.83 percent and 65.63 percent, respectively; and f. girls reported getting less attention than their brothers; that brothers dominated while playing and that they often teased their sisters but the parents did not listen to their daughters or take their side. Girls also reported not being appreciated and being scolded by parents for no ostensible reason.

• As a result of gender discrimination, India has a low child sex ratio (CSR), defined as number of girls for every 1000 boys in the 0-6 age group. The 2011 Census figure of CSR of 919 is lower than the CSR of 927 in 2001.

• The increase in violence against girls and women is apparent from the 2011 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, which has shown 31.02 percent increase in crimes against women since 2005. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics have shown that rape accounts for around 10.6 per cent of the total number of crimes against women. What is alarming is that girls under age 14 years constituted 10.6 percent of the victims, teenage girls between 14 and 18 years of age constituted 19 percent of victims while 54.7 per cent were young women in the age-group 18-30 years. The offenders were known to the victims in 94 per cent of the cases. The number of molestation cases reported in 2011 was 42,968, while there were 8,570 cases of sexual harassment (widely known as ‘eve teasing’). Crimes against women have in fact been escalating by 9.2 per cent every year on an average.

• Since its inception, the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (PCPNDT Act), meant to address gender biased sex selection, has not been effectively implemented or enforced by either the central or state governments. In some states the Act did not get notified till very recently. In one case of violation, action could not be initiated as notification of the Act had negligently not been published in the gazette. It has been found that a number of clinics, counselling centres and laboratories do not maintain proper registers and records as specified under the PCPNDT rules. The case law under the PCPNDT Act shows that sometimes the Appropriate Authorities (AAs) are deliberately negligent in performing their functions. An amendment to the Act should be considered so that the AA can be held accountable under Section 25 for dereliction of duty.

• Dowry-related crimes continue to increase at an alarming rate in India and currently account for 42 percent of all crimes against women. Important and far reaching changes were made in the Dowry Prohibition Act (DPA) in 1981, 1983 and 1986. In addition, the offences of ‘Cruelty’ to women and ‘Dowry death’ were introduced in the IPC and certain important changes made in the Evidence Act. However, due to the lack of implementation of the law, its effectiveness remains poor, despite the fact that after these changes were introduced, a large number of cases started getting filed under all these provisions. Police inaction and bias in cases of dowry have resulted in a low conviction rate and allowed dowry takers to function with impunity as stated earlier. In many instances, the police do not even register an FIR as they are bound to do in law. They do not investigate the cases properly, they routinely fail to gather important evidence, and they do not take statements of victims and other witnesses in time even if they are not consciously subverting a case. It is therefore critical that the DPA be implemented by appointment of Dowry Prohibition Officer (DPOs), at the district level in every state.

• A study titled “Separated and Divorced Women in India, Economic Rights and Entitlements” by Kirti Singh of 405 separated and divorced women has revealed that an overwhelming majority, that is, 71.4 per cent returned to their natal homes on separation. The study also revealed that 85.6 per cent of those who had children had to look after these children after separation. Another finding of the study was that only 18.5 per cent of the women asked for divorce. This reiterates the assertion by many groups working with separated women that in India very few women ask for divorce because of financial and social insecurity.

• India has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereafter CRC) but has not taken adequate steps to implement the various Parts and Articles of the Convention, or to enact legislation in accordance with the Convention except in some areas.

• Marital rape is still not recognised in the law and only sexual assault of girls below the age of 15 years within marriage is considered a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The recent amendments introduced by the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2013, has raised the age of consent for sexual acts from 16 to 18. This will result in criminalizing consensual sex even between young persons and incarceration of young boys. The Act to punish sexual violence against children also defines children as all persons below 18 and thus punishes sexual intercourse below this age. Both these changes in the law fail to recognise the existing social realities in which young people, including those below 18, may engage in sexual activity.

• Since there is still no community of property law in India between a husband and a wife and the non-financial and financial contributions of a woman to a household are not recognized, there is urgent need to enact a standalone comprehensive legislation in this area.

• While the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) law is fairly comprehensive, it can be counter-productive for the woman if the section which seeks to punish a woman for making a malicious complaint is not deleted. This is not only against the Vishakha guidelines but will also stop women from making complaints, fearing possible allegations against them.

• Recently the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 was amended to give equal rights of adoption to married women. The Guardianship and Wards Act was also amended to stop courts from appointing guardians if the mother was alive. Earlier, the courts could not appoint guardians only if the father was alive. However, Hindu women have still not been made equal guardians of their children as, under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, the father has been named as the natural guardian of a child.

• Child marriage is not invalid even if it is performed in infancy or at any point in time before the girl reaches age 18. Prevention of Child Marriage Act, 2006 stipulates that child marriage is prohibited by the law but only prescribes punishment for the person who performs the marriage and those who are responsible for it, “promote” it, “permit” it to take place or “negligently fail to prevent” it. The 2006 amendments to the law increased the quantum of punishment that could be awarded but still did not make the marriage void ab initio.

• Under the Act, the minimum age for marriage for a boy is 21 years whereas for a girl it is 18. The reasons for this distinction are unclear. It is suggested that the minimum age for marriage for both the girl and the boy should be the same.

• Customary laws, like the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 in Jharkhand and other customary laws applicable in the states of Odisha, Bihar and the north-eastern states should be closely examined and amended to remove the discriminatory provisions regarding inheritance by daughters. Some laws, regarding grant of land by the government, also contain discriminatory provisions such as the provisions relating to allotment of land under the Rajasthan Colonisation (Allotment and Sale of Government Land in the Rajasthan Canal Colony Area) Rules, 1975 which state that  only an adult ‘son’ would be eligible for allotment of land.

• The two-child norm and the laws and measures to effectuate this norm have widely been recognised to be against basic human rights and the rights of the most vulnerable and the weaker sections of society, including women. It has also been widely reported by social activists and studies that the two-child norm advances son preference and daughter aversion as most people, if they are forced to have a small family, automatically prefer sons to daughters.

• The Population Policy of Madhya Pradesh links the provision of rural development schemes, income generating schemes for women, and poverty alleviation programmes as a whole, to performance in family planning. Both Rajasthan and Maharashtra make “adherence to a two child norm” a service condition for state government employees. A similar policy exists in Andhra Pradesh, linking construction of schools, other public works and funding for rural development schemes to achievement of family planning goals.

• Most critically, the cash incentive schemes for promotion of the girl child need to be reviewed as some of these schemes limit the benefits of the scheme up to two girl children leading to ambiguity in understanding the intent of the scheme. Further, some of the schemes also provide incentives at the time of marriage and support marriage expenses. This is obviously counter-productive to the purpose of preventing discrimination as it further fuels the perception that daughters are a liability.

 

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The key findings of the report entitled [inside]Gender Pay Gap in the Formal Sector: 2006-2013[/inside] -WageIndicator Data Report (Preliminary Evidences from Paycheck India Data) can be accessed from here. Please click here to download the report.


According to the report entitled: [inside]Women and Men in India 2013[/inside], 15th Issue, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (please click to download part 1 and part 2 of the report):

Population and Vital Statistics

• The sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males) at the national level is 943. Rural sex ratio is 949 and the urban is 929. Among the States, Kerala at 1084 has the highest sex ratio followed by Puducherry at 1037. Daman and Diu has the lowest sex ratio of 618 in the country.

• The mean age at effective marriage for females stood at 21.2 years in 2011. Among the major States, the highest mean age at effective marriage was 22.6 years for Kerala and the lowest was 20.3 years for West Bengal.

• 60.8% of the rural female migrants migrated due to marriage followed by 29.4% due to movement of parents/earning member in 2007-08. A high 55.7% of the male migrants migrated due to employment reasons followed by 25.2% due to movement of parents/earning member in the same period.

Health and Well-Being

• The female Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) was 46 compared with the male IMR of 43 and the overall IMR of 44 in 2011. Among the major States, the highest overall IMR of 59 was observed in Madhya Pradesh and the lowest of 12 in Kerala in 2011.

• As per the Annual Health Survey 2010-11, the Underfive Mortality Rate was the highest in Madhya Pradesh (89) followed by Odisha (82) and Rajasthan (79) among the 9 Empowered Action Group States of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakahnd and Uttar Pradesh.

• The Maternal Mortality Ratio was 212 during 2007-09. Among the States, it was highest in Assam (390) followed by Uttar Pradesh (359) and Rajasthan (318).

• 47.0% of the deliveries took place at a health facility in 2007-08. Share of women who received ante natal care was 76.9% during this period.

• During 2012-13, the pattern of acceptance of different family planning methods in India was as follows: vasectomy – 0.4%, tubectomy – 14.8%, IUD insertion – 17.9%, equivalent conventional contraceptive users – 46.2% and equivalent oral pills users – 20.7%.

Participation in Economy

• As per Census 2011, the workforce participation rate for females at the national level stands at 25.51% compared with 53.26% for males. In the rural sector, females have a workforce participation rate of 30.02% compared with 53.03% for males. In the urban sector, it is 15.44% for females and 53.76% for males.

• As per Census 2011, 41.1% of female main and marginal workers are agricultural labourers, 24.0% are cultivators, 5.7% are household industry workers and 29.2% are engaged in other works.

• As per National Sample Survey (68th Round), the worker population ratio for females in rural sector was 24.8 in 2011-12 while that for males was 54.3. In Urban sector, it was 14.7 for females and 54.6 for males. Among the States/UTs, worker population ratio for females in the rural sector was the highest in Himachal Pradesh at 52.4% and in the urban sector, it was the highest in Sikkim at 27.3%.

• In the rural sector, 59.3% females were self-employed, 5.6% females had regular wage/salaried employment and 35.1% females were casual labours compared with 54.5%, 10.0% and 35.5% males in the same categories respectively in 2011-12.

• A total of 20.5% women were employed in the organized sector in 2011 with 18.1% working in the public sector and 24.3% in the private.

• The labour force participation rate for women across all age-groups was 25.3 in rural sector and 15.5 in urban sector compared with 55.3 and 56.3 for men in the rural and urban sectors respectively in 2011-12 (NSS 68th Round).

• The unemployment rate for women of all ages was at par with men at 1.7 in the rural areas in 2011-12. It was 5.2 for women and 3.0 for men in urban areas during the same period.

• The share of women in the person days employed through MGNREGA stood at 51.0% in 2012-13 (all districts with rural areas).

• In 2012-13, the share of women swarojgaris in the total swarojgaris assisted under the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgaar Yojna (SGSY) stood at 81.4%.

• In 2011-12, the average wage/salary received by regular wage/salaried employees of age 15-59 years was Rs. 201.56 per day for females compared with Rs. 322.28 per day for males in rural areas. For urban areas, it was Rs. 366.15 and Rs. 469.87 per day for females and males respectively.

Literacy and Education

• As per Census 2011, 73.0% of the population is literate comprising 64.6% females and 80.9% males. The incremental increase over Census 2001 of 10.5% for females is higher than 5.0% for males.

• Among the States/UTs, the female literacy rate is the highest in Kerala at 92.1% followed by Mizoram at 89.3%. The highest male literacy rate is also observed in Kerala at 96.1% followed by Lakshdweep at 95.6% as per Census 2011.

• The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for females at the primary level stood at 116.7 compared with 115.4 for males in 2010-11. At the Middle Classes level, the GER for females was 83.1 while that for males was 87.7.

Participation in Decision-making

• In 2013, women occupied only 12 out of 78 Ministerial positions in the Central Council of Ministers. There were 2 women judges out of 26 judges in the Supreme Court and there were only 52 women judges out of 614 judges in different High Courts

• There were 342.2 million female electors in the Fifteenth General Elections in 2009 out of which 55.8% exercised their voting rights. There were 374.7 million male electors and 60.3% exercised their voting rights.

• In the Fifteenth General Elections, 2009, 556 female candidates contested the elections and 59 got elected giving them a winning percentage of 10.6. The winning percentage for male candidates stood at 6.4 with 7514 candidates contesting and 484 getting elected.

 

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According to the report [inside]Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women[/inside]: Prevalence and Health Effects of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-partner Sexual Violence (2013), prepared by WHO, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and South African Medical Research Council (please click here to access the report):  

• Overall, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.

• Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.

• Globally, as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.

• Fear of stigma prevents many women from reporting non-partner sexual violence, the survey finds. Other barriers to data collection include the fact that fewer countries collect this data than information about intimate partner violence, and that many surveys of this type of violence employ less sophisticated measurement approaches than those used in monitoring intimate partner violence.

• Women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners report higher rates of a number of important health problems. For example, they are 16% more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby. They are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and, in some regions, are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, as compared to women who have not experienced partner violence.

• Of the studies of incident HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)/ STI (sexually transmitted infection), the three large studies (58–60) ( > 1000 participants) (two on HIV from sub-Saharan Africa and one on STI from India) found an increased risk of HIV/ STI among those reporting partner violence. Larger and more representative cohort studies from Africa and India show an association between experience of intimate partner violence and biologically confirmed incident HIV/other STIs.

• Globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner.

• There are fewer data available on the health effects of non-partner sexual violence. However, the evidence that does exist reveals that women who have experienced this form of violence are 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol use disorders and 2.6 times more likely to experience depression or anxiety.

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According to the report titled [inside]Tied in a Knot: Cross-region Marriages in Haryana and Rajasthan[/inside]-Implications for Gender Rights and Gender Relations (click here to access) written by Reena Kukreja and Paritosh Kumar (2013) and produced by The Royal Norwegian Embassy:

Executive Summary

• In the last decade and a half, the male marriage squeeze in economically prosperous North Indian provinces such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Western Uttar Pradesh has led to men from these states to pay money to marry women, usually from underdeveloped or economically marginalized regions in Eastern India.

• This study, focused on Haryana and Rajasthan as receiving regions, sought to examine the everyday existence of such cross-region brides within the intimacy of the conjugal household and community. Some questions for the study included looking at intra-gender relations within the family, kin network and community; the subject of integration and assimilation of these women; whether their caste status impacted their lives; and what forms, if any, did gender subordination and gender based violence take vis-à-vis such brides.

• The research was conducted in three phases in the districts of Rohtak, Rewari and Mewat in Haryana and Alwar and Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan. 226 villages were surveyed with 1247 cross-region brides participating in the survey. Detailed qualitative research followed in 30 select villages with 54 brides participating in it. In the source region of Odisha, research was conducted on a cluster of 10 villages from Bhograi and Jaleswar blocks from Balasore district with 47 families participating in it.
 
Key findings

• Shortage of women is not common across all caste groups in the conjugal regions, but is endemic in dominant caste groups of Jats and Yadavs. While the well-off from these caste groups are able to marry within locally, men who are underemployed; poor; have little land; suffer from some deformity; are less educated or are old are the ones most often seeking cross-region brides. This practice, however, is slowly spreading to some lower caste groups and among Muslim communities. It is primarily a rural phenomenon where caste hierarchies and regulations governing marriage are more strictly enforced.

• Such marriages are non-customary as the women come from different ethnicity, region and sometimes, even religion. Families of these brides are extremely poor, often falling in the category of BPL (Below Poverty Line); have little or no land assets; and rely on seasonal low-paying agricultural wage work. Inability to meet the exorbitant dowry demands made by local grooms that compels them to long distance alliances is the main reason why they opt for ‘dowry-free, no wedding expenses’ offers made by Haryanvi or Rajasthani men.

• These marriages are arranged in four ways with grave consequences for the brides depending on which route they get married through. These are: (a.) Trafficking (b) Alliances through marriage brokers or Dalals; (c) Husbands of brides; and (d) Brides as marriage mediators. Though there is trafficking of women for forced marriages, it isn’t as extensive and rampant as media makes it to be. The largest number of marriages are conducted by the cross-region brides themselves, usually of their female relatives in the immediate family or kin networks. Their motivations aren’t solely monetary as they also seek companionship in a culturally alien environment through such alliances. However, most marriages through all routes involve some degree of deception about the man’s economic ability, social status or health.

• The men seek alliances only when other female family members, such as mothers, are unable to support them. The brides are ‘needed’ solely for their ability to perform free reproductive and productive labour. They are also preferred over local women as loosening of natal family connections render them vulnerable to domination and abuse. New forms of gender subordination have emerged within conjugal families as extreme demands are made on the labour time of cross-region brides.

• The most disturbing finding of our study has been the widespread intolerance exhibited by conjugal communities in Haryana and Rajasthan towards the cross-region brides. These take a number of different forms, the worst being caste discrimination. Caste councils or Khap Panchayats, though taking a tough stance on inter-caste marriages within Haryana, show a studied silence and tacit acceptance of inter-caste nature of these cross-region marriages.

• Oppression and discrimination experienced by the low caste groups and the Dalits from the dominant caste groups gets similarly reproduced within the family bringing in wives from other parts of India. They are segregated, isolated and shunned primarily because of their ‘unknown’ caste status though the families, overtly, insist otherwise.

• Furthermore, the caste-based exclusion and humiliation is experienced both in public arena and the private space of the family. Caste discrimination is further amplified by exhibition of deep racism against the women and their natal communities. They are pejoratively called ‘Biharan’: a term implying poverty, desperation, filth and savagery. Their parents and natal communities are branded as ‘thieves’, ‘sellers of daughters’ and ‘primitive savages’. The continual denigration is internalized by the brides leading to lowering of their self-esteem and self-worth. As a survival strategy, they minimize social contact with others with negative impact on their mental health.

• Most cross-region brides are victims of colourism (darker pigmentation of their skin). Dark skin leads to their rejection in the local marriage market making them more likely to be offered for long-distance alliance, resulting in dislocation from their culture, community and family. Apart from casteist and racist slurs, these brides are considered and often taunted as ugly and dull in intelligence because of their dark skin tone.

• Children of such unions face similar racial taunts from their peers and are not accepted as one of their own. These range from sidelining them in games or bullying them with name-calling. Such incidents were high in Rohtak district of Haryana and in Alwar region of Rajasthan respectively. Some older male children have faced difficulty in finding local girls because of their mother’s ‘questionable’ caste identity. More research needs to be done on this aspect to assess its long-term impact.

• The brides are subject to heightened surveillance, which varies from total confinement to restriction of their movement within the village. The degree to which this is enforced depends on the a) mode through which the bride has been sourced, i.e., whether she is trafficked, coerced or married with her parent’s approval; b) duration of the marriage; c) amount invested by the family in the marriage; and d) whether she has children or not from this marriage.

 

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According to [inside]The State of World Population 2012[/inside]:  By Choice, Not by Chance-Family Planning, Human Rights and Development, which has been produced by UNFPA, please click here and here to access: 

 

As compared to 1 percent of young women, 26 percent of men in India (in the age group 15-24 years) are more likely to have high-risk sex with a non-marital, non-cohabiting partner in the last 12 months.

Maternal mortality ratio (i.e. the number of deaths to women per 100,000 live births which result from conditions related to pregnancy, delivery, the postpartum period, and related complications) in India stood at 200 in 2010 as compared to 37 in China.

Percentage of births attended by skilled health personnel (doctors, nurses or midwives) in India stood at 58 as compared to 96 in China during the latest available data between 2000 and 2010. 

In India 47 percent girls get married before age 18. Adolescent birth rate (i.e. the annual number of births to women 15 to 19 years of age per 1,000 women in that age group) in India stood at 39 as compared to 6 in China during the latest available data between 1991 and 2010.

Total fertility rate per woman (i.e. the number of children a woman would have during her reproductive years if she bore children at the rate estimated for different age groups in the specified time period) during 2010-2015 in India stood at 2.5 while in China it was 1.6.

The report has suggested that increasing the range of methods, managing health workers in a less directive way, and making the family planning programme more responsive to local needs has contributed to increasing demand for family planning in India. The report has been critical towards coercive methods adopted during the family planning programme in India during the 1970s.  

An estimated 222 million women globally lack access to reliable, high-quality family planning services, information and supplies, putting them at risk of unintended pregnancy. An additional $4.1 billion is necessary each year to meet the unmet need for family planning of all 222 million women who would use family planning but currently lack access to it

Making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by $11.3 billion annually.

Shortages of contraceptives are only one reason why millions of people are still unable to exercise their right to family planning. Access to family planning may also be restricted by forces including poverty, negative social pressures, gender inequality and discrimination.

A study concluded that spacing pregnancies by three to five years could reduce infant death by 46 per cent in developing countries.

Of the 80 million unintended pregnancies that are projected to occur in 2012 globally, an estimated 40 million will likely end in abortion. Addressing the unmet need for family planning worldwide would avert 54 million unintended pregnancies and result in 26 million fewer abortions.

 

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According to [inside]Progress for Children: A Report Card on Adolescents (UNICEF-2012)[/inside], Number 10, April, 2012, please click here to access:  

• Some 1.2 billion adolescents (10−19 years old) presently constitute 18 per cent of the world’s population. More than half of all adolescents live in Asia. In absolute numbers, India is home to more adolescents–around 243 million–than any other country. It is followed by China, with around 200 million adolescents.

• Every year, globally, 1.4 million adolescents die from road traffic injuries, complications of childbirth, suicide, violence, AIDS and other causes.

• Adolescent aged 10-19 constituted 20 percent of Indian population in 2010.

• 22 percent of Indian women aged 20-24 gave birth before age 18 during 2000-2010.

• Nearly 47 per cent of adolescent girls aged 15–19 in India are underweight, with a body mass index of less than 18.5.

• In India, more than half of girls aged 15–19 are anaemic. 39 percent of Indian adolescent girls are mildly anaemic, 15 percent are moderately anaemic and 2 percent are severely anaemic.

• 88 percent of male and 72 percent of female adolescents (aged 15-19) in India had media exposure at least once a week during 2000-2010.

• Bangladesh, India and Nigeria alone account for one in every three of the world’s adolescent births.

• In India, less than 30 per cent of mothers under 20 years old in the poorest households are assisted during delivery by a skilled birth attendant, compared to 90 per cent of young mothers in the richest households.

• Young women in the poorest households are seven times more likely to give birth before age 18 than young women from the richest households in India.

• 57 percent of adolescent Indian boys (15-19 years) justified wife-beating by husbands as compared to 53 percent female adolescents during 2002-2010.

• 8 percent of female adolescents (aged 15-19) in India had sex before age 15 during 2005-2010 as compared to 3 percent of male adolescents.

• 19 percent of female adolescents (aged 15-19) in India had comprehensive knowledge of HIV during 2005-2010 as compared to 35 percent male adolescents.

• 30 percent of Indian female adolescents (aged 15-19) were either married or in union during 2000-2010 as compared to 5 percent male adolescents.

 

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A survey based study, called [inside]“The Economic Rights & Entitlements of Separated and Divorced Women India,”[/inside] was conducted by a team of researchers, women’s rights activists and lawyers, for the Economic Research Foundation of India between October 2008 and September 2009 and will be published in 2012. It surveyed 405 Indian women who were either separated or divorced or deserted. The women were randomly selected from cities, towns and villages in north, east, south and west of India in an attempt to understand what happens to women when marriages fail. The survey looks at the economic and financial status of these women and seeks to capture the stark reality of their lives. It seeks to record their experiences with the police and the Courts.

Most of the surveyees were Hindus (75%) followed by Muslims (19%) and the rest belonged to other religious communities. A sizeable 42% belonged to the SC/ ST and OBC sections of our society. Education levels varied from 17.1% who had no formal education to 51.85% with different levels of schooling, ranging from primary to higher secondary. Surprisingly, 29.7% were graduates (10+2+3 years of education) and post-graduates. Thus though 29.7% of the surveyees were educated up to the graduate level or above, only 14.1% of the SC/ST surveyees had studied beyond school.

 

The key findings of the study titled: The Economic Rights & Entitlements of Separated and Divorced Women India (2012), are as follows, (please click here to access): 

 

In most parts of the country except the southern region, the majority of separated/divorced women (more than sixty percent) were aged between 23-32 years, i.e. they were separated/ divorced in their twenties or early thirties. Whereas in the Southern region most women (64%) surveyed were 28-42 years of age. 

Data analysis from a caste perspective shows that more than 60% of the SC/ ST (Scheduled Tribes) and Other Backward Class (OBC) surveyees were divorced/ separated when they were younger than 32 years of age. About 50% of these surveyees from general category were separated/ divorced at or below the age of 32 years. 

Majority live at the mercy of their husbands during the subsistence of marriage and post-marriage depend perforce on their parents, brothers, etc. Despite maintenance provisions most women are financially dependent on their natal families and 63% live with natal families, usually parents. 

Among general and OBCs this data is similar except that in SC/ST category where 71.4% of the surveyees from this category live with their natal family post separation. The miserable financial status of separated and divorced women is evident from the fact that even after separation 41.5% had no income and 27.4% earned less than Rs. 2000 per month.

Although 58.5% of the women surveyed were able to work outside their homes and earn something, their earnings were often too low for them to survive independently. Only 14% of the surveyees were able to earn more than Rs. 6000 per month. In the Southern region more separated/divorced women were working and earning (66%); whereas, in the Northern region this percentage was the lowest i.e. about 39%. 

Only 2.7% of the women were in a better occupation like being a manager, engineer, professional and consultant, etc and 4.9% of the surveyees were advocates, teachers or doctors. 15.6% of our surveyees were working either as domestic workers or were labourers, 23% of the women were in service or employed. In contrast just 1% of the husbands were labourers, 11% were professionals like managers, and 5% were advocates, teachers or doctors. About 8% of surveyees did not know the current occupation of their spouses. 

Remarriage is extremely rare. The fact that 85.6% of the surveyees had children living with them compounded their troubles. As many as 429 (85.6%) out of 501 children were living with their mother while the rest were with their fathers (7%) and others. 

Most of the spouses of the surveyees were in the higher income group with over 55% of them earning Rs. 10,000 and above. In 32% of the cases where the surveyees’ incomes were less than Rs. 1,000 per month the income of the male spouses was more than Rs. 10,000 per month. The contrast is stark. Separation/divorce clearly spells financial disaster for women and children but leaves the separated/divorced male with more income to spend on himself alone. 87.9% of the surveyees who knew about their male spouses’ lifestyles said that they lived better than they had earlier or maintained the same lifestyle.

A total of 516 cases were filed by 326 surveyees. Multiple cases were filed by some women, mostly (213) asking for maintenance.  Thus the overwhelming need of our surveyees was for financial support.  The second largest number of cases (94) was for harassment for Dowry and for recovery of Dowry.

The survey highlights the startling reality that 83% of the surveyees were separated due to cruelty or domestic violence in their marital homes. The violence took place even though 87.92% of our surveyees were living in extended families. 13.5% of the surveyees reported that they had been deserted by their husbands. 

84.5% of the Hindu surveyees and 79.2% of the Muslim surveyees reported that they had been subjected to cruelty/ domestic violence of various kinds. SC/ST surveyees reported that they had to face mental violence in almost all of the cases, whereas in about 90% of the OBC cases the surveyees had faced mental violence.

Extra-marital affair was a reason for cruelty in about 35% of the cases among SC/ST category, whereas other reasons (30.8%) as well as the dowry related issues (28.8%) were also significant causes for cruelty. 

In over 69% of the 309 reported cases the dowry and Stridhan was in the possession of the male spouse and in-laws and in 30% cases it is with the surveyees. In quite a few cases it had been sold off by the in-laws/ spouse. Only 40.1% of the 367 surveyees went to the Police for recovery of dowry, Stridhan or gift items but their experience was not positive.

The surveyees gave examples to show how marriage had affected their career opportunities as they could not work after marriage or work in a very limited way. Over half i.e. 62.7% in all of the cases, and in 75.6% from the North, 67.5% from the South, 59.3% from the East and 54.9% from the West said that they had suffered a loss of earning capacity.

 

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According to the report titled: [inside]Women and Men in India 2011[/inside], 13th issue, MoSPI, http://mospi.nic.in/Mospi_New/upload/women_men_2011_31oct11.pdf

 

The average Indian woman bears her first child before she is 22 years old, and has little control over her own fertility and reproductive health. In rural India, almost 60 per cent of girls are married before they are 18. Nearly 60 per cent of married girls bear children before they are 19. Almost one third of all babies are born with low birth weight.  

An increasing trend in mean age at marriage is observed for females in India. It has gone up from 19.8 years in 2000 to 20.7 years in 2008.

The sex-ratio (number of women per 1000 men) was 933 in 2001 and is projected to be 932 in 2010.

Preference for son varies according to social groups and regions in India. 20% men and 22.3% women prefer to have more sons than daughters. (NFHS-III, 2005-06).

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is 2.6 for the year 2008, being 2.9 in the rural areas and 2.0 in the urban areas.

The mortality rate among females across all ages is 6.8 and that among males is 8.0 for the year 2008. The female mortality rate in the ageâ€group 0â€4 years has declined to 16.1 in 2008 from 20.6 in 2000.

Out of 150.18 million households in the rural areas in 2004-05, 16.67 million are Female Headed Households (11.10%). In the urban sector, out of the total of 56.97 million households, 4.85 million are Female Headed (10.9%).

The percentage of never married females and married females across all the age-groups is 43.9 and 47.9, respectively, in 2008. The Widowed/ Divorced or Separated constitute 8.0% of the population in 2008.

The migration percentage in different streams for females as per the Census 2001 is: rural to rural- 71%; rural to urban- 13.6%; urban to urban- 9.7% and urban to rural- 5.6%. The migration among females is maximum due to marriage (64.9%). Among the males, the important cause of migration is employment (37.6%).

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has been decreasing over the years. The IMR for females in India is 55 compared to 52 for males in 2008.

Life Expectancy at Birth (LEB) has increased more among women compared to men. It is observed that in 2002-06 LEB for males was 62.6 years compared to 64.2 years for females.

56%  of the women in the age group 15-19 are anaemic  The share of deliveries in hospitals, maternity/ nursing homes, health centers, etc. is 40.8% while the deliveries assisted by doctors, trained ‘dais’, trained midwives, trained nurses, etc. constitute another 48.8% (NFHS-III, 2005-06). 

Over 99% of married women know about any of the methods of contraception. The awareness about the female sterilization is very high in both urban and rural areas. The rural women are found to be less aware about the traditional methods (56.5%), though it has increased significantly over the last 7â€8 year (NFHS-III, 2005-06).

Women also lead a differential life style. 32% women in India drink alcohol, 57% chew paan masala and 33% women smoke currently (NFHS-III, 2005-06).

Among the crimes committed against women in 2008, torture shares the highest percentage (42%), followed by molestation (21.%). 11.0% cases are that of rape, 11.7% of kidnapping and  abduction, and 1.0% of Immoral Trafficking. It is also significant to note that 6.0% cases are of sexual harassment and 4.1% of Dowry deaths.

Out of a total 20771 victims, there were 617 victims who were less than 10 years of age, 1355 in the age-group 10â€14 years, 3152 in the age-group 14-18 years, 11984 in the age-group 18-23 years, 3530 in the age-group of 30-50 years and 133 in the age-group greater than 50 years.

According to National Family Health Survey–III (2005-06) in the rural sector currently married women take 26% decisions regarding obtaining health care for herself and 7.6% in case of purchasing major household items. 10% decisions are taken by females in respect of visiting their family or relatives. For urban areas, these figures are 29.7%, 10.4% and 12.2% respectively.

According to the pilot Time Use Survey conducted in 18,620 households spread over six selected States, namely, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Meghalaya during the period June 1998 to July 1999, women spent about 2.1 hours per day on cooking food and about 1.1 hours on cleaning the households and utensils. Men’s participation in these activities was nominal. Taking care of children was one of the major responsibilities of women, as they spent about 3.16 hours per week on these activities as compared to only 0.32 hours by males. There were far fewer women in the paid workforce than there were men. There were more unemployed women than there were unemployed men.  

In 2007-08, at primary and middle school level, there were 80 and 67 female teachers respectively per 100 male teachers. At the secondary school level, it was 61 female teachers per 100 male teachers.

 

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Please click here to access the key findings of the [inside]World Development Report 2012-Gender Equality and Development[/inside], which has been brought out by the World Bank, 

• Women now represent 40 percent of the global labor force, 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force, and more than half the world’s university students. Productivity will be raised if their skills and talents are used more fully. Eliminating barriers that discriminate against women working in certain sectors or occupations could increase labor productivity by as much as 25 percent in some countries.

• Between 1980 and 2008, the gender gap in labor force participation narrowed from 32 percentage points to 26 percentage points.

• Female labor force participation is lowest in the Middle East and Northern Africa (26 percent) and South Asia (35 percent) and highest in East Asia and the Pacific (64 percent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (61 percent).

• The share of women parliamentarians increased only from 10 percent to 17 percent between 1995 and 2009.

• In India, giving power to women at the local level (through political quotas) led to increases in the provision of public goods (both female-preferred ones such as water and sanitation and male-preferred goods such as irrigation and schools) and reduced corruption. Bribes paid by men and women in villages with a female leader were 2.7 to 3.2 percentage points less than in villages with a male leader.

• In India and Nepal, giving women a bigger say in managing forests significantly improved conservation outcomes.

• The financial constraints that poor women face in accessing maternal health services need special attention. One way to help is to provide poor women with cash transfers conditional on their seeking maternal care. An example is India’s Janani Suraksha Yojana, where such transfers increased the uptake of assisted deliveries in the presence of a skilled attendant by around 36 percent.

• In India, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Mobile Creches is experimenting with different models for providing child-care services for women employed in the rural informal sector and on public works programs. Similar efforts have been undertaken in the Indian state of Gujarat by the Self Employed Women’s Association, which has set up day-care centers for the 0–6-year-old children of its members.

• Together with Pradan, Mobile Creches built a group of centers in remote rural areas in the states of Jharkhand and Bihar following discussions with local women about the child-care constraints they faced in accessing income-generating activities (specifically, yarn production) in their communities. These centers follow a community-based model, relying on employers as well as the broader community for their management, contribution of food materials, and training and selection of teachers.

• The Agricultural Technology Management Agency in India targeted women in Orissa to set up self help groups in conjunction with community organizations to provide agricultural extension. These groups led women to diversify their agricultural income sources.

• The Deccan Development Society in India has been organizing groups of women to lease or purchase tracts of land to increase women’s access to land markets.

• In India, a woman’s higher earned income increases her children’s years of schooling.

• In India, despite stellar economic growth in recent years, maternal mortality is almost six times the rate in Sri Lanka.

• A fifth of married women in India are not involved in spending decisions, even about their own incomes.

• In India, owning property substantially enhances women’s voice in the household on various matters and reduces her risk of domestic violence.

• In India, a program run by an NGO, the Foundation of Occupational Development, organized groups of women to focus on marketing, provided them with access to cell phones and the Internet, thus helping them market their products directly and increase their profit margins.

• The rise of outsourcing in India offers new opportunities for women in the wage sector and increases parental investments in girls’ education. Recruitment services that informed families about new employment opportunities for Indian women increased the chances of girls ages 5–15 years to be in school by 3 to 5 percentage points but had no effect on boys. The girls also had higher body mass index (a measure of health) and were 10 percent more likely to be employed in wage work. Perceived improvements in the likelihood of a job triggered investments in human capital for girls even when there were no changes in other potential limiting factors, such as poverty, cost, or distance to school. Evidence of greater returns was enough to stimulate greater human capital accumulation.

• ICT-related jobs were concentrated in software, call centers, and geographical information systems, and clustered in Malaysia and India, particularly in Delhi and Mumbai, where call centers employ more than 1 million people, most of them women.

• 41 percent of women interviewed in Bolivia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, India, and Kenya declared that owning a mobile phone had increased their income and their access to economic opportunities. The impacts were significantly higher among female entrepreneurs: female business owners reported that they were 2.5 times more likely than nonbusiness owners to use their mobile phone to earn income, and they were significantly more interested than other women in receiving services such as notifications of money transfers on their phones (63 percent versus 41 percent).

• Thirty-four percent of women in rural Bolivia, Egypt, India, and Kenya reallocated resources away from other items to pay for a phone subscription, compared with 20 percent among all women surveyed and 12 percent among women who do paid work.

• In India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, subcontracted workers suffered from precarious job security, an almost total absence of benefits, and a general impossibility to organize and fight for their rights. Yet in many cases, subcontracted work was the only possible paid employment that women could take that meshed with family responsibilities or social norms.

• In India, the decline in women’s share of industrial employment (from 21.3 percent in 1989–90 to 17.5 percent in 1994–95) despite high export growth was associated with an increase in subcontracting to home-based workers or small manufacturers that work on a piece-rate basis.

• Experience from India and Mexico shows that equalizing provisions of inheritance laws between women and men increases asset ownership by women.

• Reforms to inheritance laws in India resulted in delays in marriage for girls, more education (increasing the number of years of schooling by an average of 11–25 percent), and lower dowry payments

• Changes in inheritance laws that gave equal rights to daughters in some South Indian states increased the likelihood that women inherited land.

• In Kerala, India, women’s independent ownership of immovable property is a significant predictor of long-term physical and psychological domestic violence, over and above the effects of other factors. The odds of being beaten if a woman owns both a house and land are a twentieth of those when she owns neither. In short, women’s property ownership is associated with significantly lower levels of domestic violence.

• In India, a constitutional amendment to set aside 33 percent of parliamentary seats for women has been under discussion since 1996. Supported by many women’s groups, it has failed to pass.

• The Indian state of Tamil Nadu introduced 188 all-women police units to cover both rural and urban areas and to focus on crimes against women. These units increased women’s comfort in approaching the police, including making reports of domestic abuse.

• In 11 of 13 countries with data—including India, Romania, Sierra Leone, Sweden, and the United States—women make up less than 20 percent of the police force

• A survey reveals that almost all police officers interviewed in India agreed that a husband is allowed to rape his wife, half the judges felt that women who were abused by their spouses were partly to blame for their situation, and 68 percent of them said provocative attire was an invitation to rape.

• In India, the ability of women to use their earnings to influence household decisions depends on their social background, with women with weaker links to their ancestral communities more able to challenge social norms and reap the benefits of autonomous incomes. About 20 percent of the participants in the WDR 2012 study said that husbands have complete control over their wives’ autonomous earnings (the share was a little more pronounced in rural areas).

• Men who experience economic stress were more likely to use violence against their intimate partners than those who did not in regions of Brazil, Chile, Croatia, and India. They were also more likely to suffer from depression, and in India, men who experience economic stress are two and a half times more likely than their peers to regularly abuse alcohol, which presents a health risk for them as well as a risk factor for domestic violence.

• In India, villagers who had never had a female leader preferred male leaders and perceived hypothetical female leaders to be less effective than their male counterparts, even when stated performance was identical. Exposure to a female leader did not alter villagers’ preference for male leaders, but it did weaken stereotypes about gender roles in the public and domestic spheres, and it eliminated the negative perception among male villagers about female leaders’ effectiveness.

• A study of political reservation for women in India showed that teenage girls who have repeated exposure to women leaders are more likely to express aspirations that challenge traditional norms, such as a desire to marry later, have fewer children, and obtain jobs requiring higher education.

• In rural India, cable television affected gender attitudes, resulting in decreased fertility (primarily through increased birth spacing) and bringing gender attitudes in rural areas much closer to those in urban areas. Women with access to cable were less likely than others to express a son preference or to report that it is acceptable for a husband to beat his wife.

• In India, daughters-in-law face a higher work burden than daughters.

• In India, among those with access to microcredit, women with an existing business increased their consumption of durable goods; women with a high probability of becoming business owners did the same, and at the same time reduced their nondurable consumption, which is consistent with the need to pay fixed costs to enter entrepreneurship.

• In India, the absence of land titles significantly limits women farmers’ access to institutional credit.

• In Karnataka, India, 29 percent of land-holding male-headed households received an extension visit, while 18 percent of female-headed households did. For livestock extension, by contrast, 79 percent of female-headed households had contact with an extension agent, against 72 percent for male-headed households

• Evidence from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Malawi, South Africa, and Uganda also suggests that young women’s friendship networks are less robust than those of their male peers.

• Increased economic opportunities for young girls can also change their own and their communities’ perceptions of gender roles for adolescent girls. A study of a program in Delhi that linked communities to recruiters for high-paying telephone work found that these communities were more likely to have lower expectations of dowry and to find it acceptable for women to live alone before marriage and to work before and after marriage or childbirth

• Women workers in the informal sector have challenged their employers and sometimes the state through such organizations as the Self Employed Women’s Association in India and Nijera Kori in Bangladesh. These groups have provided voice for women and created space for public action to counter the resistance to reform.

• The expansion of economic opportunities for women in service industries in Bangladesh and India has boosted school enrollments for girls, which feeds into higher labor force participation and better educational outcomes for the next generation.

• North Indian states are a notable exception; women have grown taller at a much slower rate than men, and girls’ anthropometric outcomes remain worse than boys—both in levels and in changes over time.

• In India, fertility was high and stable through 1960 and then sharply declined from 6 births per woman to 2.3 by 2009.

• In India, the median boy and girl ages 15–19 in the wealthiest fifth of the population reach grade 10, but the median boy in the bottom fifth reaches only grade 6, and the median girl only grade 1. Across countries there is little gender disadvantage for the wealthiest: households in the top income quintile tend to achieve full gender parity in education.

• Since 1990, both India and Equatorial Guinea had declines of 41 percent in their maternal mortality ratios, which fell to similar levels in 2008, but the two countries had radically different growth trajectories—a mere 3 percent a year in Equatorial Guinea compared with a solid 8 percent in India.

• Improvements in women’s education and health have been linked to better outcomes for their children in countries as varied as Brazil, Nepal, Pakistan, and Senegal.

• Skewed sex ratios at birth is a problem in a few parts of the world, including China, parts of India, and parts of the Caucasus and the Western Balkans. The underlying cause is son preference among households, which has been exacerbated in some of these places by rapid income growth. Higher incomes have increased access to ultrasound technologies that assist in sex selection at birth.

• Overall, missing girls at birth and excess female mortality under age 60 totaled an estimated 3.9 million women in 2008—85 percent of them were in China, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

• Missing girls at birth reflect overt discrimination in the household, resulting from the combination of strong preferences for sons combined with declining fertility and the spread of technologies that allow parents to know the sex before birth. This is a particular issue in China and North India (although now spreading to other parts of India), but it is also visible in parts of the Caucasus and the Western Balkans.

• In 2008 alone, an estimated 1 million girls in China and 250,000 girls in India were missing at birth. The abuse of new technologies for sex-selective abortions—such as cheap mobile ultrasound clinics—accounted for much of this shortfall, despite laws against such practices in many nations, such as India and China. Economic prosperity will continue to increase amniocentesis and ultrasound services throughout the developing world, possibly enabling the diffusion of sex-selective abortions where son-preferences exist.

• More than 1.3 million girls are not born in China and India every year because of overt discrimination and the spread of ultrasound technologies that allow households to determine the sex of the fetus before birth. Informal institutions that generate a preference for sons are the primary bottleneck.

• The three population groupings—China (with a population of 1.3 billion), India (1.15 billion), and Sub-Saharan Africa (0.8 billion)—together account for 87 percent of the world’s missing girls and excess female mortality.

• The higher mortality rates for girls and women in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami have been related to their more limited mobility caused by restrictive clothing and caring for small children.

• Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, and Indonesia have maternal mortality ratios comparable to Sweden’s around 1900, and Afghanistan’s is similar to Sweden’s in the 17th century.

• In 2008, there were 63,000 maternal deaths in India and 203,000 in Sub-Saharan Africa (56.7 percent of the global total), in stark contrast to rich countries, with only 1,900 maternal deaths.

• As was discovered in Bangladesh in the early 1970s and India in the 1980s, girls are less likely to be vaccinated, less likely to be given medical care, and less likely to receive nutrition at home.

• Research: Of all papers published in the top 202 economics journals between 1985 and 2004, 149 papers were on Pakistan and 1,093 on India—but there were no papers on the Central African Republic, 1 on Chad, 14 on Benin, 2 on Guinea Bissau, and 20 on Niger. Only for Burkina Faso (47) and Nigeria (148) do the numbers start picking up.

• Gender gaps in primary education have closed in almost all countries. In secondary education, these gaps are closing rapidly and have reversed in many countries, especially in Latin America, the Caribbean, and East Asia—but it is now boys and young men who are disadvantaged. Among developing countries, girls now outnumber boys in secondary schools in 45 countries and there are more young women than men in universities in 60 countries.

• Two-thirds of all countries have reached gender parity in primary education enrollments, while in over one-third, girls significantly outnumber boys in secondary education.

• Since 1980, women are living longer than men in all parts of the world. And, in low-income countries, women now live 20 years longer on average than they did in 1960.

• Female life expectancy increased dramatically in developing countries (by 20 to 25 years in most regions in the past 50 years) to reach 71 years globally in 2007 (compared with 67 for men), and women now outlive men in every region of the world.

• Over half a billion women have joined the world’s labor force over the last 30 years as women’s participation in paid work has risen in most of the developing world.

• Females are more likely to die, relative to males, in many low- and middle-income countries than their counterparts in rich countries. These deaths are estimated at about 3.9 million women and girls under the age of 60 each year. About two-fifths of them are never born, one-sixth die in early childhood, and over one-third die in their reproductive years.

• Despite the overall progress, primary and secondary school enrollments for girls remain much lower than for boys for disadvantaged populations in many Sub-Saharan countries and some parts of South Asia.

• The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that equalizing access to productive resources between female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent.

• Eliminating barriers that prevent women from working in certain occupations or sectors would have similar positive effects, reducing the productivity gap between male and female workers by one-third to one-half and increasing output per worker by 3 to 25 percent across a range of countries.

• It took more than 100 years for the number of children born to a woman in the United States to decline from 6 to 3; the same decline took just over 35 years in India and less than 20 in Iran.

• Globally, excess female mortality after birth and “missing” girls at birth account every year for an estimated 3.9 million women below the age of 60. About two-fifths of them are never born, one-fifth goes missing in infancy and childhood, and the remaining two-fifths do so between the ages of 15 and 59

• The Young Lives study looked at educational aspirations and noncognitive skills of boys and girls at ages 8, 12, and 15 for 12,000 children in Ethiopia, Andhra Pradesh in India, Peru, and Vietnam. Parental aspirations for the education of their children were biased toward boys in Ethiopia and India by the age of 12 and toward girls in Peru and Vietnam. By the age of 15, these biases had been transmitted to children, with clearly higher educational aspirations among boys in Ethiopia and India, and among girls in Vietnam. And by age 15, measures of agency or efficacy showed a strong pro-male bias in India and Ethiopia but not in Peru and Vietnam.

• Only 27 percent of children ages 10 and 11 in India can read a simple passage, do a simple division problem, tell the time, and handle money. This low learning is not an Indian problem; it recurs in nearly all low- and middle-income countries. This low learning is not an Indian problem; it recurs in nearly all low- and middle-income countries. For the developing countries as a whole, 21.3 percent of 15-year-old children tested by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) could not achieve level 1 proficiency in mathematics—the most basic skills.
 

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Please click here to access key findings of the report entitled Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2008 Estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and The World Bank.


According to [inside]Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice 2011-12[/inside], UN-Women, please click here to access

• Some 600 million women, more than half the world’s working women, are in vulnerable employment, trapped in insecure jobs, often outside the purview of labour legislation.

• Globally, 53 percent of working women are employed in vulnerable jobs, as own-account workers or as unpaid workers in family businesses or farms. In South Asia and

• Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 80 percent of women workers are in this kind of employment. Millions work in the informal economy as home-based workers and paid domestic workers.

• According to International Labour Organization (ILO) data from 18 countries, domestic work accounts for between 4 and 10 percent of the workforce in developing countries, and between 1 and 2.5 percent in developed countries. Between 74 and 94 percent of domestic workers in these countries are women.

• In South Asia alone, there are 50 million home-based workers, of whom four out of five are women. Home work ranges from traditional crafts such as weaving or embroidery, and processing natural products like making rope or shelling cashew nuts, to industrial work, such as making leather shoes, garments or trimming rubber and plastic parts. It is usually labour-intensive and done by hand. This work almost always takes place outside of formal systems of labour or social regulation, without basic rights to a minimum wage, social security or a pension.

• Globally, the proportion of working age women in formal employment or seeking work stood at 53 percent in 2009, unchanged since 1991.

• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to protect and promote women’s rights. Since entering into force in 1981, the legally binding treaty has been ratified by 186 United Nations Member States.

• Based on available information from 83 countries, the ILO reports that women are generally paid between 10 and 30 percent less than men. According to the International Trade Union Congress, the average gender pay gap is 29 percent in Argentina, 22 percent in Poland and 24 percent in the Republic of Korea. These wage gaps reflect the fact that women doing the same or comparable jobs are paid less than men for the same work, but they are also indicative of the fact that women tend to be concentrated in low-paid work.

• According to the most recent data, global poverty rates have declined significantly, due largely to progress in China and India. The number of people in developing countries living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 1.8 billion in 1990 to 1.4 billion in 2005. The ILO estimates that in 2010, there were 87 million unemployed women globally, up from 76 million in 2007 .

• The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 906 million people were under-nourished in 2010, compared to 827 million in 1990 to 1992.

• The FAO estimates that the productivity gains from ensuring equal access to fertilizers, seeds and tools for women could reduce the number of hungry people by between 100 and 150 million.

• In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of women are farm workers. Women do more unpaid work than men in all regions.

• Women are more likely than men to live in poverty in 22 out of the 25 countries for which data are available.

• When Bhanwari Devi was gang-raped by local men while doing her job as a social worker in a village in Rajasthan, India she not only initiated criminal proceedings, but she also sought a broader remedy for other working women. Supported by five women’s organizations, including Vishaka, she took the case to the Indian Supreme Court, where in 1997 she eventually won watershed recognition of sexual harassment in the workplace, against which the Government had an obligation to provide legal protection.

• The Government of India introduced a long-awaited bill prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace in 2007.

• 173 countries guarantee paid maternity leave. 139 constitutions guarantee gender equality. 125 countries outlaw domestic violence. 117 countries outlaw sexual harassment. 117 countries have equal pay laws. 115 countries guarantee women's equal property rights. 93 countries have equal inheritance rights.

• A review of legislation in 126 countries and territories indicates that 42 have laws in place to guarantee paid paternity leave. The Government of Sweden has had a policy of paid parental leave since 1974, with women and men equally entitled to take time off.

• According to the World Bank, at least 115 countries specifically recognize women’s property rights on equal terms to men. Even in those countries with laws in place, women’s actual control over land is limited. In 1994, the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra in India amended the Hindu Succession Act to give daughters the same inheritance rights as their brothers.

• In Europe, abortion is rarely permitted in 2 out of 37 countries. In Asia, abortion is rarely permitted in 18 out of 47 countries. In Africa, abortion is rarely permitted in 21 out of 52 countries. In Latin America and the Carribean, abortion is rarely permitted in 14 out of 30 countries. One in seven maternal deaths is caused by unsafe abortion.

• Five countries outlaw abortion under any circumstances, even when the mother’s life is at risk and 61 countries only allow abortion under very rare circumstances. As a result of such restrictions, approximately 20 million unsafe abortions are carried out annually, killing an estimated 68,000 women each year.

• In 48 countries, there are limitations on the industries in which women can work. The most common restrictions are on jobs that involve heavy lifting or arduous work; jobs that threaten a woman’s mental and physical health; and work in mines, quarries or underground. In 11 countries, female employment is restricted in jobs that are ‘against women’s morals’.

• In 13 countries across six regions, laws specify that women must retire at a younger age than men. In 50 countries, the minimum legal age of marriage is lower for females, exposing girls to the risks of early marriage. In the developing world, more than one third of women aged 20 to 24 report that they were married or in a union by the age of 18. Early marriage curtails girls’ opportunities for education and exposes them to the risks of early pregnancy and childbirth, the leading causes of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries.

• Same-sex activity between consenting adults is criminalized in 40 percent of the countries surveyed. In 53 countries, consensual homosexual acts between adult women are illegal. Such laws and policies deny lesbian, transgender and bisexual women the protection of the law and limit their access to services.

• Since 2000, a number of countries have decriminalized homosexuality, including Armenia, Fiji, Nepal and Nicaragua. Six countries prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in their Constitutions: the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Ecuador, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland.

• As of April 2011, 125 countries have passed legislation on domestic violence, including almost all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Two thirds of all countries have also taken steps to make workplaces and public spaces safer for women, by passing laws to prohibit sexual harassment.

• Two thirds of countries have laws in place against domestic violence, but many countries still do not explicitly criminalize rape within marriage.

• As of April 2011, 52 countries have amended their legislation to explicitly make marital rape a criminal offence.

• In 17 out of 41 countries, a quarter or more people think that it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife.

• Another area of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights that is increasingly being subject to criminal law is HIV transmission. Criminalization takes two forms: through the application of existing criminal law and through new laws that specifically criminalize HIV transmission. There are 63 countries that have HIV-specific criminal laws: 27 in Africa, 13 in Asia, 11 in Latin America and the Caribbean, nine in Europe, two in Oceania and one in North America. In 17 countries, these laws have been used to prosecute individuals for transmitting HIV.

• Across 57 countries, on average 10 percent of women say they have experienced sexual assault, but of these only 11 percent reported it. This compares to a similar incidence of robbery, on average 8 percent, but a reporting rate of 38 percent. A 2009 study of European countries found that, on average, 14 percent of reported rapes ended in a conviction, with rates falling as low as 5 percent.

• In 23 out of 52 countries, less than half of women and men say they have confidence in their country’s justice system. In 18 out of 30 countries, more than half of women have no say in household decisions.

• Data from 39 countries show that the presence of women police officers correlates positively with reporting of sexual assault, which confirms that recruiting women is an important component of a gender-responsive justice system. Globally, women average just 9 percent of the police, with rates falling as low as 2 percent in some parts of the world. On average, women do not make up more than 13 percent of the police force in any region. Since the opening of women’s police stations in 13 Latin American countries, the visibility of violence against women and levels of reporting have increased.

• Globally, women account for 27 percent of all judges. Women’s representation in the judiciary approaches 50 percent in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, but in South Asia progress is less encouraging. One study in the United States found that women judges were 11 percent more likely to rule in favour of the plaintiff in employment discrimination cases.

• Significant advances have been made towards achieving universal primary education, with the number of out-of-school children falling from 106 million in 1999 to 67 million in 2009. In developing regions, there were 96 girls for every 100 boys enrolled in primary school, up from 91 in 1999. In 2009, girls accounted for 53 percent of all out-of-school children.

• Progress has been made on the goal of gender parity in secondary schooling, with 96 girls for every 100 boys enrolled in secondary school in 2009, up from 88 girls for every 100 boys in 1999.

• The global share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector was 40 percent in 2009, an increase of just 5 percentage points since 1990.

• When women access the labour market they are often unable to secure decent jobs. Globally, more than half of women (53 percent) work in vulnerable employment, rising to more than 80 percent of women in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

• The mortality rate for children under the age of five has dropped by more than a third from 89 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 60 per 1,000 in 2009.

• Early marriage puts mothers and children at risk. Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries.

• Child mortality increases by 60 percent if the mother is under the age of 18, attributed to health complications in pregnancy and labour, and a lack of knowledge of and access to reproductive health care services.

• The economist Amartya Sen estimated that 100 million women were ‘missing’ in Asia in 1990 as a result of prenatal sex selection, infanticide and neglect. New estimates put the figure at 134 million. Developed regions have reached 30 percent critical mass for share of women in ministerial positions, but no region has achieved the mark for the proportion of women in parliament.

• Under-five mortality rates for girls are significantly higher in several countries in Asia, even though girls are physiologically predisposed to have higher survival rates than boys. For example, the underfive mortality rate for girls in India in 2008 was 73 per 1,000 live births, compared to 65 for boys. In China, the rate for girls was 24, compared to 18 for boys.

• Across all regions, under-five mortality is much higher among children from the poorest households than those from the richest. According to United Nations estimates, the sex ratio at birth has increased globally from a stable 105 in the early 1970s to a recent peak of 107.

• In 2008, it is estimated that 358,000 women died in pregnancy or childbirth. The number of maternal deaths has decreased by 2.3 percent per year since 1990, far below the 5.5 percent needed to reduce maternal deaths by three quarters by 2015.

• In addition to deaths, over 300 million women worldwide suffer long-term health problems and disability arising from complications in pregnancy or delivery.

• It is estimated that up to 70 percent of maternal deaths could be prevented through the availability of maternal and reproductive health care services and adequate family planning.

• Globally, there were 33.3 million people living with HIV in 2009 and women were 53 percent of those in developing countries and 21 percent in developed regions. Almost 80 percent of all women living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 5 million people received antiretroviral treatment in 2009. Although this represents a 30 percent increase since 2008, it is only 35 percent of those who needed it.

• In India, around 90 percent of women living with HIV acquired the virus while in a long-term relationship. Women’s risk of infection is increased by their lack of decision-making power.

• There are more than half a million women and girls in penal institutions around the world. Prisons are almost always designed for the majority male prison population and rarely meet women’s needs. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the ‘Bangkok Rules’, to provide guidance to Member States on the treatment of female prisoners.

• In most countries, women make up between 2 and 9 percent of the prison population, with the highest rates of imprisonment in China, the Russian Federation, Thailand and the United States. Female imprisonment rates are increasing rapidly.

• Sexual violence as a tactic of warfare has been used systematically and deliberately for centuries. It creates shame and stigma and has in the past been perpetrated with almost complete impunity. Sexual violence is used against civilian populations to destroy the social fabric of communities, as a deliberate vector of HIV, for the purpose of forced impregnation, to drive the forcible displacement of populations and to terrorize whole communities. In Rwanda, it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped in less than 100 days, as part of the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, between 20,000 and 60,000 mostly Muslim women were subjected to sexual violence in ‘rape camps’.
 

According to [inside]Women and Labour Markets in Asia: Rebalancing for Gender Equality (2011)[/inside], which has been brought out by International Labour Organization (ILO) and Asian Development Bank (ADB), please click here to access:   

• The Asia and Pacific region is losing US$42 billion to US$47 billion annually because of women’s limited access to employment opportunities, and another US$16 billion to US$30 billion annually as a result of gender gaps in education. Failure to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target 3 on the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women could reduce per capita income growth rates by 0.1–0.3 percentage points.

• The annual average employment growth for 2000–2007 was higher for Asian women than for Asian men, and the employment-to-population ratio for Asian women was also higher than the world average for women. But 45 per cent of working-age Asian women were inactive compared to 19 per cent of men.

• 45 per cent of the productive potential of Asian women, as measured by the share of women outside the labour force, remained untapped compared to 19 percent of Asian men. And the likelihood of men working was much higher at 77 per cent relative to 53 per cent for women. Furthermore, when compared to Asia’s high GDP growth rate, overall employment growth was dismal for both women and men; and when compared to the global female employment elasticity of 0.47, the Asian figure of 0.27 suggests that Asian women gained less than women worldwide in terms of employment growth.

• The female LFPR was 55.5 while that of males was 80.7 per cent in 2009. The largest gender gaps were in Central Asia and South Asia, where the female LFPRs were the lowest in Asia. The labour force participation rate (LFPR) measures the proportion of a country’s working age population that engages actively in the labour market either by working or looking for work.

• Asia is unique in both its relatively low female unemployment rate and its positive male-female gap (the regional unemployment rate for women was 4.3 per cent in 2009, compared to 4.7 per cent for men and well below the global female rate of 6.5 per cent).

• Only 1 per cent of all women workers in Asia were running their own business with paid employees; the entrepreneurial capabilities of Asian women are far from being tapped.

• South Asia had the highest rate of vulnerable employment (which includes family workers and own-account workers) among all regions in the world at 84.5 per cent for women and 74.8 per cent for men.

• For Asia as a whole, 48.2 per cent of women worked in the agricultural sector in 2009, compared to 38.9 per cent of men. In the Pacific Islands and South Asia, the concentration of employed women in agriculture was especially heavy.

• The six service sectors in Asia where women accounted for more than 50 per cent of the workforce were health and social work, education, private households with employed persons, hotels and restaurants, and financial intermediation.

• The “feminization” of employment in labour-intensive manufacturing in Asia’s export processing zones/special economic zones (with women accounting for between 70 to 90 per cent of the workforce) was a hot topic especially in the 1990s and early 2000s.

• In India women represent only 31 per cent of the total workforce and 32 per cent of the informal workforce but of the female workforce, 96 per cent are informally employed.

• In India in the latest national labour force survey conducted in 2004/05, 36.1 per cent of employed women are considered working poor on the basis of US$ 1 per day versus a working poverty rate of 30 per cent for men; and 86.4 per cent of employed women live with their families on less than US$ 2 per person per day, versus 81.4 per cent of employed men.

• Gender earning differentials in the informal economy mirror, and in many cases surpass, those in the formal sector due to both vertical and horizontal segregation in employment and continuing gender inequalities associated with women’s unpaid reproductive work.

 

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According to [inside]The World's Women and Girls: 2011[/inside], Population Reference Bureau, please click here to access: 

 

• In India during 2005-06, 30 percent of women and 26 men agreed that wife beating is acceptable if a wife argues with her husband

• During 2005-06, 14 percent women and 8 percent men in India agreed that wife beating is acceptable if a wife refuses sex with her husband

• In many countries, men make the decisions regarding household purchases for both daily items and larger purchases, limiting women’s economic empowerment in the home. Additionally, when women cannot decide when to visit their own family, they are subject to social isolation and their personal autonomy is reduced.

• 45 percent, 40 percent, 25 percent of women aged 20-24 years in South Central Asia, sub-Sahran Africa and Latin America and the Carribean respectively get married by age 18 years. 47% of women in India between the ages of 20 and 24 were married by 18.

• Total fertility rate (TFR) i.e. the average number of children a woman would have throughout her childbearing years (usually considered to be aged 15 to 49 years) in India is 2.6.

• Percentage of Indian women aged 15-19 years giving birth in one year i.e. births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 (the age-specific fertility rate), divided by 10 is 6.

• Percentage of married Indian women using modern contraceptives (include clinic and supply methods such as the pill, injectables, implants, IUD, condom, and sterilization) is 49.

• Percentage of births attended by skilled personnel (includes doctors, nurses and midwives) in India is 47.

• Maternal mortality ratio, the number of deaths to women per 100,000 live births (2008) in India is 230.

• Percentage of the female population aged 15 to 24 in India who can both read and write, with understanding, a short simple statement on everyday life is 74 whereas the same figure for male population is 88.

• Women as percentage of Indian Parliament in 2010 is 11.

• Women as percentage of nonfarm wage earners (2005-2010) in India is 18.

• Female secondary school enrollment as percent of male enrollment (2005-2010) in India is 88.

• Without sex-selective abortion, the natural sex ratio is 1.05 (about 105 boys born for every 100 girls). However, in countries where sex-selective abortion takes place, the birth ratios are much higher than 1.05, meaning a disproportionate number of boys are born. Sex-selective abortion has significant consequences for the number of men and women in an overall population. However, the United Nations projects that highly skewed sex ratios in most countries will decline in the coming decades. Only India is projected to remain steady at 1.08.

 
According to [inside]The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011 Women in Agriculture[/inside]: Closing the gender gap for development, please click here to access:


• Almost 70 percent of employed women in Southern Asia and more than 60 percent of employed women in sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture.

• Women comprise, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, ranging from 20 percent in Latin America to 50 percent in Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

• The share of women in the agricultural labour force has remained steady at just over 30 percent in India.

• The female share of the agricultural labour force appears to have increased dramatically, such as Pakistan where it has almost tripled since 1980, to 30 percent, and Bangladesh where women now exceed 50 percent of the agricultural labour force.

• Estimates of the time contribution of women to agricultural activities range from 32 percent in India to over 50 percent in China.

• While the national average for women’s share of total time-use in agriculture is 32 percent, the share ranges from less than 10 percent in West Bengal to more than 40 percent in Rajasthan.

• Girls aged between 14 and 19 contribute up to 60 percent of the total time spent on agriculture.

• Women work longer hours than men in vegetable contract-farming schemes controlled by male farmers in the Indian Punjab.

• An estimated two-thirds of poor livestock keepers, totaling approximately 400 million people, are women.

• The influence of women is strong in the use of eggs, milk and poultry meat for home consumption and they often have control over marketing these products and the income derived from them.

• Information provided to FAO from 86 countries indicates that in 2008, 5.4 million women worked as fishers and fish farmers in the primary sector. This represents 12 percent of the total. In two major producing countries, China and India, women represented a share of 21 percent and 24 percent, respectively, of all fishers and fish farmers.

• If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent. This could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5–4 percent, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17 percent.

• Women are reported to constitute 33 percent of the rural aquaculture workforce in China, 42 percent in Indonesia and 80 percent in Viet Nam.

• Data from 35 nationally representative surveys for 20 countries analysed by FAO show that female-headed households are more likely to be poor than male-headed households in some countries but the opposite is true in other countries – so it is not possible to generalize.

• Of the 106 countries committed to MDG 3 on gender parity in access to education, 83 had met the target by 2005.

• For those developing countries for which data are available, between 10 percent and 20 percent of all land holders are women, although this masks significant differences among countries even within the same region.

• Financial institutions in countries such as Brazil, India, Kenya, the Philippines and South Africa have been able to reach rural customers including women at a lower cost by handling transactions through post offices, petrol stations and stores, and many telecommunication service providers allow their customers to make payments or transfer funds.

 

According to [inside]Gender dimensions of agricultural and rural employment[/inside]: Differentiated pathways out of poverty—Status, trends and gaps, which has been brought out by FAO, IFAD and ILO, please click here to access:

 

• Unpaid work on family agricultural enterprises accounts for 34 percent of women’s informal employment in India (compared with 11 percent of men’s informal employment) and for an astonishing 85 percent in Egypt (compared with 10 percent for men).

• Agriculture continues to be the main source of rural employment for both women and men in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. In Latin America, rural female workers appear equally distributed between agricultural and non-agricultural sectors (with self-employment more prevalent in agriculture than in manufacturing and services), while rural men work mostly in agriculture, either as self-employed or wage workers. 

• Gender differences in employment status appear to be more marked in South Asia, where only 13 percent of adult women are self-employed in agriculture compared with 33 percent of men, and less than 6 percent of rural women work in non-agricultural sectors compared with 27 percent of men. It is interesting to note that in South Asia, women appear somewhat equally distributed between wage work and self-employment (13 percent and 12 percent, respectively) within agriculture, whereas most men who work in agriculture are self-employed. Women in South Asia are relatively more engaged in agricultural wage employment than are women in any other region, most likely the result of women’s weaker property rights in land and other assets than in most other regions, coupled with increasing landlessness.

• South Asian women are also more likely to remain unpaid for work on their own family business than in any other region: ILO data for 2007 indicate that 59 percent of the total female labour force in South Asia works as contributing family workers, compared with 36 percent in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, 35 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and only 7 percent in Latin America. The corresponding shares for men are 18 percent in South Asia, 18 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 4 percent in Latin America.

• Agriculture is a female-intensive activity in both India and Bangladesh and in Bangladesh provides employment to more than 60 percent of the total female labour force (mostly in the form of rice production and poultry rearing). In Sri Lanka, agriculture appears to be less labour- and female-intensive than in the other two South Asian countries.

• In the case of India, the share of the female adult population in both agriculture and non-agriculture work is higher than regional averages, and the share of female casual agricultural labour is especially significant (about 30 percent of the total female rural workforce). Of note, in particular, is the high share of the rural male labour force working in non-agricultural activities relative to the high share of the rural female labour force working in agriculture, suggesting some ‘feminization of agriculture’. Since the 1990s, a number of studies on gender and rural employment have been pointing to the ‘feminization of agriculture’, attributing it partly to the trends described previously. The term ‘feminization of agriculture’ can mean different things and should be used with care. It refers broadly to women’s increasing presence (or visibility) in the agricultural labour force, whether as agricultural wage workers, independent producers or unremunerated family workers. Others use the term to indicate deterioration in the quality of agricultural work.

• Women contribute substantially to total productive work in male-headed households in Zimbabwe (about 40 percent of the total) but not in Ethiopia (where women’s contribution can be less than 10 percent). In Zimbabwe, the vast majority of the work involves own farming (more than 90 percent of total activities), while in Uganda waged work/business constitutes between 26 percent and 29 percent of total work. The share of waged work/business in total employment is highest in Andhra Pradesh, India (more than 50 percent of the total). This could be expected, as Andhra Pradesh is a strong-performing state, classified as in between a ‘transforming’ and ‘urbanized’ economy.

• Farm work is mostly provided by men (except in Zimbabwe, where women are the main contributors), while livestock keeping is almost exclusively a children’s activity in all the African countries. Children, more in general, seem to contribute significantly to household agricultural activities (up to seven hours per day in some regions). The share of paid work done by men relative to other family members is the highest across all African countries, and in particular in Ethiopia. In India, the share of paid work done by women, other relatives and children is higher than elsewhere and than the share done by men. This is a fascinating study, and more research of this kind would allow for more generalized understandings.

• A significant share of women in South Asia work as agricultural labourers but we do not know whether they receive similar wages and benefit from similar entitlements as male agricultural labourers.

• Some of the factors that may push women into a disadvantaged economic position relative to men in terms of the returns to their labour are: (a) employment (occupation and task) segmentation (women are disproportionately employed in low-quality jobs, including jobs in which their rights are not adequately respected and social protection is limited); (b) the gender gap in earnings (partly as a consequence of high segmentation; women earn less for a given type of work than do men – usually for both wage employment and self-employment); and (c) fewer hours of paid work but overall larger work burdens (due to competing demands of care responsibilities and non-market work, women spend less time on average in remunerated work, which lowers their total labour income and is likely to increase stress and fatigue).

• As for the agricultural sectors, there seems to be a common pattern across regions in that women tend to be the main producers of food while men appear to be managing most of the commercial crops, although not without women’s (often unpaid) contributions. Women also participate in commercial farming but within a rather rigid division of tasks. This rigidity in the gender division of tasks appears to be stronger in South Asia than in parts of Africa or Southeast Asia.

• Petty trade is a more prevalent activity for women in Africa, Latin America and some Southeast Asian countries than in South Asia. In South Asia, most female non-agricultural activities are home-based, reflecting prevailing strict norms of women’s seclusion, particularly in parts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The location of their work (within private homes) makes it more difficult to enforce legislation.

• In Asia, women produce mostly food crops, whereas men tend to diversify into commercial farming. In some countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia, women are involved in cash crops (e.g. cotton in Pakistan, peanut production in the Philippines and Thailand, poppies in Afghanistan) but the gender division of tasks remains marked. Especially in Southeast Asia, women are heavily involved in rice production, where they constitute up to 90 percent of the labour force. In Cambodia and Vietnam, female farmers also take on male tasks (such as land preparation and irrigation) when male labour is not available. In China, differences in the gender division of crops and tasks depend on agro-ecological characteristics, production systems and crop types. Where male outmigration is high, women work on both cash and food crops and perform most farming activities, including use of machinery. They become main decision makers regarding choice of crops, fertilizer use and marketing, but men retain power in public affairs at the community level (e.g. Southwestern Provinces). There are very high shares of unremunerated female family workers and increasing casualization of agricultural labour, both male and female (e.g. India).

• In Afghanistan, regions of India (Kerala and West Bengal) and Uzbekistan, women are engaged in manufacturing (e.g. dress making) and domestic and catering services but NOT in trade. In Sri Lanka, women market local agricultural produce, prepare cooked foods for sale, especially rice and flour-based foods, run small grocery shops and make and sell handicrafts. In Southeast Asia (Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam) women are involved in small trade, particularly of agricultural goods. In China, women participate in light industry. Men are mainly involved in construction, commerce, transportation and services.

• There are many home-based workers in India, and very poor working conditions for women in South Asia (e.g. limited ability to organize, particularly if home-based work; no access to social protection).

• Despite the widespread commitment of many countries to respect and promote the principle of freedom of association, the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of all forms of discrimination in the workplace (including through ratification of a number of ILO Conventions particularly relevant to rural workers such as convention Nos. 11, 111, 129, 138, 141, 182, 184, and others), rural workers – and especially women and children – face both legal impediments and practical challenges in asserting their rights. Also, despite the hazardous nature of the work and the high levels of risk, agriculture is often the least well-covered sector in the economy as far as national occupational safety and health regulations are concerned.

• A recent study by the ILO (Breneman-Pennas and Rueda Catry, 2008) shows that globally, women’s participation in institutions for social dialogue such as labour councils and advisory boards is still limited. By region, the average share of women participants is 35 percent in the Caribbean, 12 percent in Africa and 11 percent in both Asia and Latin America. The same review also finds that the institutions starting to include gender in social dialogue are about 57 percent in Asia, 33 percent in the Caribbean and in Africa, and 25 percent in Latin America (the scope of this inclusion varies considerably). However, the extent to which these institutions specifically represent the interests of rural workers is not indicated.

• There has also been an increase in the number of other more informal organizations promoting the rights of women workers, the best known of which is probably the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India. However, these encouraging initiatives are still limited.

• In the case of India, women who work as daily casual wage earner in agriculture earn 69 percent of the wage earned by men in the same occupation. Women who work as regular wage earner in agriculture earn 79 percent of the wage earned by men in the same occupation. Women who work as casual wage earner in non-agriculture earn 65 percent of the wage earned by men in the same occupation. Women who work as regular wage earner in non-agriculture earn 57 percent of the wage earned by men in the same occupation.

• ILO data show that in 2007 the overall working poverty rate was 58 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, 47 percent in South Asia, about 16 percent in Southeast Asia and 7 percent in Latin America. Many rural workers remain poor because they receive low earnings and live and work in precarious conditions, are vulnerable to health and other shocks and have little access to risk-coping mechanisms such as insurance or social assistance; in other words, they only have access to ‘indecent’ work. Poverty can push women into employment – the so-called ‘distress sale of labour’ – often in informal and poorly paid jobs (a vicious circle).

• Evidence from South Asia also shows that rural women from poorer households are more likely to take up paid employment, particularly as wage workers, than women from wealthier families.

• Boserup (1970) distinguished between a ‘male farming system’ and a ‘female farming system’. The ‘male farming system’ was characterized by high incidence of landlessness, high levels of agricultural wage labour, inheritance through male lines and a low presence of women in the fields due to strict norms of female seclusion resulting in women concentrating mainly on tasks within the homestead. The ‘female farming system’ was characterized by family farming, low levels of wage labour, bilateral inheritance practices, communal ownership of land with usufruct rights for female members and high percentages of agricultural female family labourers. Women in this latter system played a major role in food production, had greater freedom of movement and were active in trade and commerce. Patterns similar to those of the ‘male system’ can still be found in the MENA region, in parts of South Asia (especially Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh). and even in some regions of Latin America. Except for Latin America, women in these countries still participate in trading in limited ways. Some characteristics of the ‘female farming system’ can be observed in sub-Saharan Africa but also in many countries of Southeast Asia.

• During the dryer summer months, women participating in a microenterprise project run by the Self-Employed Women’ s Association (SEWA) in Gujarat, India must reduce the time they spend on paid activities because of the need to spend longer hours collecting water. Reducing water collection to one hour a day would enable these women to earn an additional US$100 a year – a significant sum for a poor household. An example of a successful initiative in the area of water infrastructure is provided by SEWA’s water campaign in Gujarat. The project was about improving access to safe and reliable drinking water and involved, among others, training women to repair hand pumps. Women’s collective action was a crucial ingredient of the success. Women were initially reluctant to participate because water infrastructure was regarded as male territory and men were expressing hostility by refusing to drink water from a source built by women or to work on water structures that women managed. SEWA’s district-level functionaries and village women leaders facilitated a process of mobilization through meetings, solidarity group formation and capacity building, and acted as interface between the local women and the water board. As a result, workloads from collecting water were reduced, enabling women to devote more time to remunerated employment or to rest. More reliable and safer water provision also led to a reduction of migration to nearby villages.

• A recent social audit of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in Tamil Nadu, India (Narayanan, 2008) indicates that about 70 percent of the women interviewed had no child care facilities at the worksite despite the provision of the NREGA that ‘in the event that there are at least five children under the age of six at the worksite, one of the female workers should be deputed to look after them and she should be paid the same wage as other NREGA workers’. About 50 percent of the women left their children at home and most of them were being dissuaded from bringing them to work. Women with children older than three years did not seem to face similar difficulties, and a large proportion of them reported sending their children to local child care centres (the ‘anganwadis’) or to school.

• Some innovative projects appear to be available to meet the demand for child care in rural contexts, particularly in India. Mobile Crèches is a voluntary organization that offers child care to women working in the construction sector. It has more than 300 centres and reaches about 200000 children across India. It approaches builders in urban and rural construction sites, with a view to opening a centre there. Those who agree provide basic facilities. SEWA also provides child care and targets groups of migrant workers. For instance, it supports women in a district of West Gujarat where many of the poorest families work in salt extraction. The salt workers have to stay in the proximity of their workplace, near the coastal desert terrains, up to eight months in a year. The children have to follow their parents, with often negative implications for their education and overall development.

• SEWA in India supports an innovative scheme providing about 100 000 women workers, in both urban and rural areas, with health insurance, including a maternity component and life and asset insurance. However, some of SEWA’s poorest members cannot afford the premiums, which have to be set at a rate that ensures financial viability. SEWA in India combines the provision of banking services with the formation of co-operatives to promote women’s economic, social and political interests.

• In India, where growing land scarcity has intensified male competition and created additional constraints to women’s usufruct, trusteeship and ownership rights, women’s access to land seems to have become more constrained. In India, the land question is also crucial because as a result of male out-migration, women remain largely confined to agriculture and they are faced with the prime responsibility for farming, but without rights to the land they cultivate.

• India study (Srivastava and Srivastava, 2009) shows a marked gender disparity in wages in agricultural and non-agricultural employment, as well as significantly lower wages for both men and women casual agricultural labourers compared with non-agricultural labourers. For both casual and regular workers, women receive lower wages than men (i.e. wages between 57 percent and almost 80 percent of men’s wages). women employed as regular workers are less discriminated against in agriculture (where they get 79 percent of the male wage) than in the other non-agriculture sectors (which pay women only 57 percent of the male wage); however, this is not the case when women work as casual labourers. This shows that women who manage to enter the formal agricultural labour market can be better remunerated; their specific competencies are given a value that is not recognized “economically” in non-agricultural work.

• In India, female farmers and agricultural workers lag behind their male counterparts at every level of educational attainment, and are between 20 and 30 percent more likely to be illiterate than males. Lower levels of educational attainment among women contribute to their being unable to compete with men for better and more skilled jobs.

• In May-June 2008, a survey of 1,060 NREGA workers in six Hindi-speaking states of North India was conducted (Khera and Nayak, 2009) to study the impact of the NREGA in the lives of workers. Significant benefits reported by the women include improvement in food security, health benefits and a chance to avoid hazardous work. Women have started earning the minimum wage, which is a big achievement. Further, a majority of women workers reported collecting their wages and keeping it. The availability of local wage employment at the statutory minimum wage for women is a new development associated with the NREGA in many of the areas covered by the survey. However, the participation of women varies widely across the survey regions. Serious problems remain in implementation across states (such as the lack of availability of child care and the continued presence of illegal contractors). Given the critical gains made by women workers – in accessing work and income, food and health care for themselves and their families, and in leaving potentially hazardous work – it is critical that problems in implementation be resolved and not derail the gains.

 

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According to [inside]Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector[/inside], please click here to access:  

  • The share of agricultural workers in the female workforce is very high, 72.8 per cent in 2004-05, while for males it is much lower at 48.9 per cent.

  • Among female agricultural workers, the share of those working as farmers has been slightly lower than for males in the earlier years (Employment-Unemployment Surveys of NSSO). However, in 2004-05 the share of farmers among men and women was almost equalized 64.4 per cent among women and 64 among men agricultural workers.

  • Among the small farmers, 62 per cent of men and 85 per cent of women are illiterate or have education upto primary level. Only about 20 per cent of the male small farmers and 6 per cent of the female small farmers had levels of education above secondary schooling.

  • Percentage of female agricultural labourers in the total workforce in rural areas has declined from 36.5% in 1999-2000 to 29.2% in 2004-05.

  • The incidence of child female agricultural labourers (2.4 per cent) is higher than for child male labourers (1.5 per cent) in 2004-05.

  • Gender disparity within agriculture is also high though the ratio of female wages to male agricultural manual wages has remained unchanged at about 0.70 since 1993-94 indicating that male wages are 1.4 times the female wages.

  • The wage employment days available for female agricultural labourers were 196 in 1993-94, which declined to 184 in 2004-05.

  • There was no feminisation of agriculture till 2000, however, the share of women workers in agriculture in 2004-05 showed an increase. The obverse is observed for the process of casualisation of female workforce in agriculture, i.e., proportion of agricultural labourers among female workers in agriculture.

  • Casualisation of the workforce in agriculture occurred from 1983 to 2000 for men and women and in 2004-05 when the feminisation of the workforce seemed to have occurred, there was no further casualisation of the workforce.



According to [inside]The EU India FTA in Agriculture and Likely Impact on Indian Women[/inside] by Roopam Singh & Ranja Sengupta, December, 2009, CENTAD, please click here to access:

 

  • As per the Census 2001, total work force in India is 400 million of which 68.37 percent are male workers and 31.63 percent are female workers.
  • The total agriculture workforce in India is 234,270,000 as per 2001 census, of which 38.99 percent is contributed by female workforce and 60.93 percent is male workforce.

  • 46.23 percent of the agricultural labourers are women whereas, 32.91 percent of the total cultivators are women who perform low end jobs. In comparison, 67.09% of cultivators are male.

  • In India, agriculture is a highly gender sensitive sector. Almost 75.38% of all women workforce are engaged in agriculture. Within agriculture, 94% of women in crop cultivation are in cereal production and other crops n.e.c., 1.4% in vegetable production and horticulture, while 3.72% are engaged in fruits, nuts, beverages, and spice crops.

  • Foodgrains production draws about 33 percent of its labour from women. Growing of sugarcane and sugar beet draws 25.5 percent of its labour force from women.

  • Animal Husbandry employs 7.03% of women workers who are engaged in agriculture.

  • The Plantation sector is a large employer of women that employs 6.86 percent of the total women force in the agriculture allied activities and fisheries sector employs 0.49 percent of the women.

  • Agriculture, with its low requirement of skills and work which can be more easily combined with work at home, is an easy source of work for women. Many women also work as unpaid family labour. Due to lack of education and training, women who are engaged in agriculture are less able to shift easily to other higher skilled jobs, for example, in the services sector. This makes them dependent on this sector and on its stable growth for survival.

  • As per the NSS Report 2004-05, the involvement of women in various agricultural activities in percentage terms (percentage distribution among women agricultural workers according to activity) is 1.23 percent in ploughing, 4.2 percent in sowing, 6.13 percent in transplanting, 23.82 percent in weeding and 23.64 percent in harvesting and 40.98 percent in other cultivation activities.

  • While gender wage disparity in all these activities is about the same, about 70 percent, activities like ploughing, dominated by men, seem to command the highest level of wages while weeding activities earn the lowest, implying a gap of Rs. 9.46 per day for males. The gap between wages for ploughing earned by males and weeding wages earned by females is Rs. 21.47.

  • In rural areas, women earn about 70 percent of men's wages in terms of both regular and casual wages. Wages also seem to vary significantly by location, education status and age group.

  • Women seldom enjoy property ownership rights directly in their names. Even when women have mutations of land in their names, they may not have actual control over that land. Decision making in cropping patterns, sale, mortgage and the purchase of land or the instruments of production remains in the hands of the men of the household. 

 

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According to [inside]Investing in Women as Drivers of Agricultural Growth[/inside] by Jacqueline Ashby, Maria Hartl, Yianna Lambrou, Gunnar Larson, Annina Lubbock, Eija Pehu, and Catherine Ragasa, please click here to access:

  • Women play a critical role in agricultural production in developing countries. Particularly in low income countries in which agriculture accounts for an average 32 percent of the growth in gross domestic product (GDP), and in which an average 70 percent of the countries' poor live and work in rural areas, women make up a substantial majority of the agricultural workforce and produce most of the food that is consumed locally.

  • The Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook suggest that gender issues are explicitly incorporated into less than 10 percent of official development assistance (ODA) that is directed toward agriculture.

  • Animal diseases cause the loss of about 30 percent of livestock production in developing countries, and women who lack access to credit or information are typically more exposed to risk than male livestock managers.

  • In Andhra Pradesh, India, the organization of over eight million women into self help groups around community procurement centers enabled dispersed commodities to be aggregated and sold, with a cumulative turnover in four years of over $120 million that created jobs for over 10,000 villagers in supply chain management. The income gain on some commodities exceeded 200 percent. Women became active mangers and traders in rural markets and hugely increased their economic and socio-political leverage in households and communities.

  • Gender policy that establishes and trains both women and men to work in teams as front-line staff supporting women producers has proven effective in India's ATMA program and Venezuela's CIARA Foundation.


According to [inside]Factsheet: Women Farmers and Food Security[/inside], produced by The Hunger Project,

http://www.thp.org/system/files/Factsheet+on+Women+Farmers+and+Food+Security.pdf:

  • The FAO estimates that women produce over 50 percent of all food grown worldwide.

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, women grow 80-90 percent of the food.

  • African women work far longer hours than men. On average, their workdays may be 50 percent longer according to the World Bank.

  • Women carry out essential work such as hoeing, planting, weeding and harvesting with simple tools and little outside assistance.

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, when women obtain the same farm inputs as average male farmers, they increase their yields for maize, beans and cowpeas by 22 percent.

  • Despite the critical role they play in food production and management of natural resources, they have ownership of only 1 percent of the land. Lack of access to and control over land has intensified women's difficulties, their access to credit, technical assistance and participation, all essential for development.

  • Agricultural extension strategies traditionally have focused on increasing production of cash crops by providing men with training, information, and access to inputs and services.

  • Women bear the primary responsibility for their families' health, education and nutrition.

  • The Convention on Biodiversity, an international treaty signed by 191 of the world's countries "recognizes the vital role that women play in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and affirm[s] the need for the full participation of women at all levels of policy-making and implementation for biological diversity conservation".

  • Rural women, in their role of farmers, are key to maintaining biodiversity. They improve and adapt plant varieties, cultivate plants, and store and exchange seeds.

  • Women are suffering particularly because, in some African countries, women eat last as a cultural tradition, and when there is less food, women are the first to eat less.


According to Agriculture Sector in India, please click here to access: 

  • The mode of female participation in agricultural production varies with the landowning status of farm households. Their roles range from managers to landless labourers. In over all farm production, women's average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour with percentages, much higher in certain regions. In the Indian Himalayas a pair of bullocks works 1064 hours, a man 1212 hours and a woman 3485 hours in a year on a once hectare farm, a figure that illustrates women's significant contribution to agricultural production.

  • The Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement impacts women's knowledge of and control over seed. The Agreement on Agriculture impacts women's livelihood and income security, and also has secondary impacts in terms of increased violence against women. The sanitary and phyto sanitary agreement has a direct impact on women's expertise and economic role in agroprocessing.

  • According to 1991 census the male cultivators has increased in the country by 11.67 percent from 76.7 million in 1981 to 85.6 million in 1991. The female cultivators however have increased at much faster rate of 45.23 percent from 14.8 million in 1981 to 21.5 million in 1991.

  • 74 percent of the entire female working force is engaged in agriculture operations. About 60 percent of agricultural operations like sowing of seeds, transportation of sapling, winnowing, storage of grain etc are handled exclusively by women, while in other jobs they share the work with women. Apart from participation in actual cultivation, women participate in various forms of processing and marketing of agricultural produce.

  • Female agricultural labours do not enjoy any maternity leave and do not get proper rest after childbirth.

  • About 36.50 percent women work in rural India as cultivators and 43.4 percent as agricultural labours (Census-2001).

  • As men migrate in search of better-paid work, women in rural India are taking over agricultural work in the villages. They face meager wages, long hours, hazardous work and sexual harassment.



According to [inside]Characteristics of Sex-Ratio Imbalance in India, and Future Scenarios [/inside]by Christophe Z Guilmoto (2007), UNFPA, please click here to access:


  • Rising sex ratios in India have been recorded since the early 1980s, and have since continued increasing with no sign, so far, of reversing course.

  • From the 1980s, sex-selective abortions became the primary method used to alter the sex composition of children.

  • There has been a gradual increase in the proportion of boys (per 100 girls) from 1981 to 2001, a rise that was significantly faster in urban areas.

  • Sex selection appears to have played a major role in causing the deterioration observed in child sex ratio. Excess female mortality among infants and children contributes only moderately to the deficit of girls.

  • The deterioration of child sex ratio has been observed in a limited number of states, particularly those in the West of the country, stretching from Punjab to Maharashtra.

  • Some religious groups, such as Sikhs or Jains, exhibit extreme sex-ratio values on the whole, while such figures tend to be normal or low among other groups, such as tribal communities.