'A lot needs to be done on gender empowerment'

Literacy rate among women is highest in Kerala and lowest in Rajasthan, Bihar


Jasleen Kaur | March 13, 2012

Life expectancy at birth is improving due to better health facilities. But the maternal mortality rate (MMR) has been significantly high in India as compared to other developed and developing countries in the world, says the report 'Understanding gender equality in India 2012.'

The report, exposes disparities, discriminations and imbalances that women still face. The report is a collaborative work of the UN women and the National Commission for Women which was released on Tuesday.

MMR is the ratio of the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The national average of MMR is 212 but Kerala has the lowest with 81, followed by Tamil Nadu with 97. It is the highest in Assam with 390, followed by states like Uttar Pradesh 359, Rajasthan with 318, Madhya Pradesh with 269 and Bihar and Jharkhand with 261.

Mamta Sharma, chairperson of NCW said, “The report shows that though a lot has been done for gender empowerment and equity, a lot still remains to be done.”

The report takes several women indicators and argues that the country’s economic development is incompletes without women empowerment.

Declining sex ratio (the number of females per thousand males) has been a matter of concern for many decades. The report shows that when the national average is 940, Kerala has the highest sex ratio with 1084 followed by Puducherry with 1038. The lowest is in states Delhi with 866, Haryana with 877 and Punjab with 893.

The literacy rate among women is also highest in Kerala with 91.98% literate women. It is lowest in states like Rajasthan with 52.66% women literacy and Bihar with 53.33%. The national average is 65.46%.

The report also collected the data related to violence against women. It says that over the last few years some efforts have been made to formulate national laws and policies to address violence against women but enforcement and implementation challenges still remain.

The report shows that the average age of getting married, nationally, is 19.8 years. But in some states it is still less than 18 years. In Bihar, the average age is 17.6 years, in Rajasthan it is 17.7 years.

The elected women representatives to Gram Panchayat are highest in Bihar with 54.65% followed by Manipur with 43.58%. It is lowest in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with little over 33%.

Lilly Thomas, one of the women lawyers to have agitated the cause of deprivation of women’s rights in Courts, who was also honored, said, “Gender equality is important but most important thing is the caste equality. And this equality will only come once we drop our castes.”



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