Indian Women facing inequality at all stages of Life Cycle: UN Study

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Who: The World’s Women 2015: Trends and Statistics report
What: Released by the UN
When: 20 October 2015
Why: To publicise comparative status of women & men across the world

A study of the United Nations released on 20 October 2015 observed that Indian women are facing inequality at all stages of life cycle-from birth to old age-and in all places whether at home or in larger society.

The observation was made in the report entitled  which is an update of the statistics on the situation of women and men around the world.

While sex-selective abortions have been technically illegal since 1996, the law has had little effect so far on the sex ratio at birth.

Key findings of the report

• In absolute terms, India is home to largest surplus of men in the world with 43 million, next only to China that has 52 million surplus men.
• India has the lowest sex ratio in under-5 mortality with a ratio of 93 that is 93 boys die before age 5 for 100 girls that die by that age; India is also the only country with an under-5 mortality sex ratio under 100.
• India alone accounted for 21 per cent of all under-5 deaths in 2013.
• Higher mortality among girls can be closely related to a general preference for sons that is expressed in special treatment for boys in terms of parental investment in nutrition, vaccinations, access to health treatment and parental care in general.

Between 1995 and 2013, women’s participation in the labour forcedeclined from 35 to 27 per cent.
• More than 70 per cent of men working in the non-agriculture sector were employed informally who are vulnerable to unemployment.
• While female panchayat heads tend to prioritize issues surrounding the provision of drinking water, male heads tend to place more emphasis on irrigations systems.
• As per data available for 2005-06, in around 99 percent instances,sexual violence is perpetrated by an intimate partner of women.
• India accounts for one third of the global total of child marriages.
• About 47 per cent of ever-married girls and women aged 15 to 49 belonging to Scheduled Tribes reported experiences of emotional, physical or sexual violence committed by their husbands, compared to 40 per cent of the total population.
• Sex of a child influences care-seeking, including delayed hospitalization that results in lower rates of hospitalization among girls than boys.
• Delays in seeking treatment are generally associated with longer travel distances to health facilities, poverty, lower levels of education and lack of a health card by the mother.
• India is the biggest contributor to global electricity access deficit where306.2 million people are without electricity out of 1.2 billion people on the planet.
• Women are most vulnerable during disasters evident from female mortality during 2004 tsunami and 2010 heat wave in Gujarat.
• India, along with Nepal, stands as an example to showcase greater participation by women in forest governance is linked to stronger efforts to overcome fuel shortages, and improved conservation practices and resource regeneration.
• The proportion of women with an account at a formal financial institution was lower than 17 percentage points compared to women.

About the report

The report is based on eight critical areas of policy concern- population and families, health, education, work, power and decision-making, violence against women, environment and poverty.

These parameters were identified by the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 as crucial to achieve gender equality across all segments of life cycle.

The Beijing Declaration was adopted by the UN Fourth World Conference on Women and seeks to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all women throughout their life cycle.