Daily Editorial Analysis for 12th July 2023

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Why in News?

  • World Population Day was celebrated on 11 July worldwide.

India’s Population Facts and Findings

  • India’s population has grown from 340 million in 1947 to 1.4 billion in 2019.
  • Reasons for population explosion were:  receding starvation, improved public health, and medical advancements.
  • Due to these reasons parents did not need four children in order to ensure that two will survive.
  • Life expectancy has increased from 56 years at independence to 69 years currently for men in India.
  • Total Fertility Rate declined from 5.7 in 1950 to 2.1 in 2019.
  • India Human Development Survey (IHDS) found that 85% of women respondents were dependent on their sons for old age support, while only 11% depended on their daughters.
  • The number of girls per 100 boys, aged under five dropped from 96 to 91 between 1950 and 2019.
  • Average age for the first birth among women has increased from 20 years for women born in 1940s to 22 years for women born in 1980s.
  • Proportion of the female population aged 65 and above increased from 5% to 11% between 1950 and 2022.
  • Reduction in state support for childcare led to decreasing rates of employments for mothers.

India’s Demography

  • Preference for a male child in India is majorly due to social norms, patrilocal kinship patterns and lack of financial security.
  • This preference led to sex-selective abortion and neglect for daughters.
  • Early motherhood for women is the reason why despite decline in fertility their labour force participation rates have not picked up proportionately.
  • Usually women marry men who are older than them. This leads to majority of women outliving their partners which means they have to spend rest of their lives as widows.

Changes for Indian women

  • India’s demographic transition has impacted the lives of Indian women more than any other segment.
  • Decline in fertility over the years provided mothers with time to work on their education and employment.
  • Even though educational opportunities and enrollment in secondary education increased for women but early marriage and childbearing still remained the defining features of their lives.
  • By the time, peak childcare demands ends for women, they find themselves to be late for learning new skills prevalent in the market. Because of this they are left with only unskilled work.
  • Lack of access to savings and property for aged widowed women leads to dependence on children, mainly the son.

Way Forward

  • The cycle of gender disadvantage can cease if women’s access to employment and assets could be enhanced.
  • In order to improve women’s labour force participation, access to safe and affordable childcare is a pre-requisite.
  • The State should actively work towards providing monetary and non-monetary support to mothers to make sure they don’t quit the workforce.
  • Inclusion of a crèche in Anganwadis should be given impetus, as it will lead to safer childcare along with economic participation. Further, staffing crèche should be made an acceptable form of work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
  • Growing role of self-help movements can be utilized to set up neighbourhood child-care centres in urban and rural areas.
  • Gender dividend is placed at the core of Demographic divided. Investing in education, employment, nutrition and healthcare of women today can reap dividends for a number of generations to come.

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