Women Empowerment in India: Gender Equality, linkage between Women empowerment and economic development, Indicators of Women Empowerment

Women Empowerment in India

Gender Equality

  • The first and foremost condition for Women Empowerment is to promote Gender Equality. Gender equality is a human right which entitles all persons irrespective of their gender to live with dignity and with freedom. Gender equality is also a precondition for development and reducing of poverty.
  • Empowered women make invaluable contribution to the improvement of health conditions and educational status and productivity of whole families and communities, which in turn improve prospects for the next generation.
  • Gender equality will be achieved only when women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. This means sharing equally, power and influence, and having equal opportunities in economic and social spheres. Equal claim on education and career prospects will enable women to realize their personal ambitions.
  • Gender equality demands the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives. When women are empowered, the whole family benefit, thus benefiting the society as a whole and these benefits often have a ripple effect on future generations.

How Gender Equality Promotes Economic Development

The Positive effects of Women Empowerment in an Economy.

Linkage Between Women Empowerment and Child Health and Education

  • It has been found in various studies conducted by the World Bank, ADB and other renowned research organisations that, educated female-headed households do much better in the provision of health and education of the children at home.
  • This happens because women have an inclination towards the healthy development of her children. Moreover, the studies have also found that men as the household head tend to spend their income on luxuries and unproductive purposes like Liquor and Gambling. Such household headed by men tend to spend least on child’s education and health.
  • The case for women-headed households is totally different as Women’s tend to minimise the expenditure on unproductive things and spends maximum on their child’s health and education.

Indicators to Measure Gender Equality/Women Empowerment

Ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary Schools

  • Education is the single most important factor to ensure gender equality and empowerment.
  • Enrolment of girls in primary education, survival and transition to higher levels of education lead to achieving gender parity in education.
  • During 2000-01 to 2013-14, substantial progress has been achieved towards gender parity in education as revealed by some important indicators.
Indicator Level of Education 2001-02 2013-14
Enrolment of girls as % of total enrolment Class 1 to 5 43.80% 48.02%
Class 6 to 8 40.90% 48.60%
Class 9 to 12 38.80% 47.10%
Number of Girls per 100 boys enrolled Primary education 78 93
Upper Primary 69 95
Secondary education 63 90
Higher education 58 81

Gender Parity Index

  • The Gender Parity Index (GPI) is the ratio of the number of female students enrolled at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education to the corresponding number of male students in each level.
  • The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) is the number of pupils enrolled in a given level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the population in the theoretical age group for the same level of education.
  • GPI of GER is the ratio of GER of the girls to that of boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education. Thus, the GPI (GER), which is free from the effects of the population structure of the appropriate age groups, for each level of education, is taken as the appropriate indicator to monitor the gender equality in education.
Gender Parity Index All India Level
1990-91 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Primary Education 0.76 0.94 0.94 0.95 1 1 1.01 1.01 1.03 1.03
Secondary Education 0.6 0.8 0.82 0.88 0.85 0.88 0.88 0.93 0.99 1
Tertiary Education 0.54 0.69 0.69 0.7 0.7 0.74 0.86 0.88 0.89 0.9

Source: World Bank and MOHRD

Source: World Bank

Ratio of Literate Women to Men

  • The ratio of literate women to men, 15–24 year old (literacy gender parity index) is the ratio of the female literacy rate to the male literacy rate for the age group 15–24.
  • The literacy rate for population in the age group 15-24 years has shown an upward trend both in rural and urban areas and for females as well as males.
  • The youth literacy rate has increased from 61.9% to 86.1% during the period 1991-2011. This period saw a higher increase in literacy rate among female youths (from 49.3% to 81.8%) compared to male youths (from 73.5% to 90%). Over the years, the gap between male and female youth literacy rate has been reduced considerably.
  • As per Census 2011, the ratio of female youth literacy rate to male youth literacy rate is 0.91 at all India level.
  • During the decade 1991 -2001, the percentage increase in ratio of female youth literacy rate to male youth literacy rate is 19.4% whereas during 2001 -2011, the growth was 13.75%.
  • The slow pace of progress in the indicator ‘ratio of female youth literacy rate to male youth literacy rate’ in the last decade can be attributed to the tendency of low growth rates observed for most of the indicators which are nearing the saturation point. With the progress achieved during 1991 – 2011, India is likely to achieve the gender parity in youth literacy rate by 2015.

Proportion of Seats held by Women in National Parliament

  • India has witnessed 16 General elections to the Lok Sabha of Nation’s Parliament so far.
  • As in January 2015, India, the world’s largest democracy, has only 65 women representatives out of 542 members in Lok Sabha, while there are 31 female representatives in the 242 member Rajya Sabha and at present, 12.24% seats of Indian Parliament is held by women.
  • According to data released by Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU), India ranks 115 in the World for proportion of National Parliament seats held by Women.

Source: Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

Himanshu Arora
Doctoral Scholar in Economics & Senior Research Fellow, CDS, Jawaharlal Nehru University

By B2B

Revisiting the Basics

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