Population and Role of Women – UPSC GS1

  • Half of India’s population is below 29 years of age.
Trends in India’s population growth:
  • India’s population growth is now stabilising. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR), presently at 2.2 children, will soon reach replacement level (2.1).
  • Half of India’s population is under 29 years of age. This means a greater proportion of young people will drive India’s economic growth and social progress.
Role of Women:
  • Rural women have little formal education and are in the lowest income quintile.
  • Prevailing social norms doesn’t allow women to have a say in choosing their family size.
  • Sample Registration System’s (SRS) data shows progressive policies for maternal health have resulted in improved rates of institutional delivery and a decline in maternal mortality ratio (MMR).  It declined from 327 in 1999-2001 to 113 per 100,000 live births in 2016-18.
  • National Health Family Survey 5 for the year 2019-20 (NFHS-5) shows contraceptive prevalence has improved in most States.
  • Programs such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) have made some efforts to challenge existing social norms. It has underlined that investments in social causes must go alongside economic progress.
  • Girls are still marrying too young – 26.8% of women aged 20-24 years are married before they turn 18. Further they often have their first child within the first year of marriage.
  • India has slipped 28 places to rank 140th among 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report (2021). It is now the third-worst performer in South Asia.
Way Ahead:
  • India’s population stabilisation strategy must be adjusted, keeping in mind the rights of women and girls. Placing youth, women and girls at the centre of policymaking and services could trigger a positive ripple effect. 
  • Young people, and adolescent girls, in particular, should have access to education, relevant skills, information and services to make healthy choices.
  • They should be empowered to exercise their rights, and have access to opportunities for employment.
  • Research and practical experience shows that societies are healthier and more productive when women are empowered to make informed choices.
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