After three posts (read them here, here and here) with hurrahs over the changes being wrought in the social landscape, a sobering look at what the statistics say for the entire country.

As per the ‘handbook on statistical indicators on Indian Women 2007’, brought out by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development, GoI :

Sex Ratio :

  • The All-India sex ratio (number of women per 1000 men) has shown a decrease of 13 points (from 946 in 1951 to 933 in 2001)  over the last 50 years
    • Though the sex ratio in urban India increased by 40 points during the period, that for rural India decreased by 19 points, and 77% of India’s women reside in rural areas.



Education Status :

  • As per the Indian census of 2001, the literacy rates of women aged 7+ have been steadily increasing and have improved from 29.8% in 1981 to 53.7% in 2001.
    • However, this is still over 20 points below that of men which is at 75.3%.
    • The gender gap in literacy rates increases when we look at adult literacy rates (population aged 15+ years), which are 47.8% for women and 73.4% for men
    • The women reading this post are probably amongst the privileged 5.2% of women who are educated till the level of graduation and more!   


  • Of the women that are literate, only 28% are literate and educated beyond matric / secondary level, whereas the corresponding percentage for men is 34%


Participation in the workforce :

  • As per NSSO surveys, at an All-India level, the share of women in wage employment in non-agricultural sector is 20.23% in 2004-2005 vs. 16% in 1999-2000 – well, at least the increase is heartening, if not the absolute numbers
  • However, as per Census 2001, the work participation rate (proportion of workers to total population) for females is 25.7 % whereas that of males is 51.9%
  • As per NSSO surveys, at an all – India level, while the wages paid to women labourers are increasing, the gender gap in wages is also increasing.



Participation in governance :

  • In 2004, 47.95% of the total electors were females
  • As on 9/1/2007, women members constitute only 9.07% of the National Parliament
  • As per Census of Central Government Employees, in 2001, the female employment in Central Government is 2.92 lakhs which is only 7.53 % of the total employment in Central Government


Summary of the pace and magnitude of change : Inching ahead, not racing ahead.

Let’s not forget that ads like this one are still required and the message of girl children being as welcome as little boys has not sunk in yet.


Zenobia Driver