According to the 2001 census, female literacy in India is 54.16 % against male literacy of 75.85 %. Most of the working women remain outside the organized sector: A mere 2.3 % women are administrators and managers, and 20.5 % professional and technical workers.
There are an estimated 40 million Hindu widows in India, the least fortunate of them shunned and stripped of the life they lived when they were married. It’s believed that 15,000 widows live on the streets of Vrindavan, a Hindu holy city of about 55,000 population in northern India. Many widows – at least 40per cent are said to be under 50 – are dumped by their relatives in religious towns and left to live off charity or beg on the streets. Their plight was highlighted in Deepa Mehta’s award-winning film Water, which had to be shot mainly outside India because of Hindu extremist opposition to the production.
Nearly 9 out of 10 pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 years suffer from malnutrition and about half of all children (47%) under-five suffer from underweight and 21 % of the populations are undernourished. India alone has more undernourished people (204 million) than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined. Nearly 20 % of women dying in childbirth around the globe are Indians. Six out of every 10 births take place at home and untrained people attend more than half of them. 44 % of the Indian girls were married before they reached the age of 18. It added, 16 % of girls in the age group 15-19 years were already mothers or expecting their first child and that pregnancy is the leading cause of mortality in this age group.
On an average one Indian woman commits suicide every four hours over a dowry dispute. During Indian marriage, women should bring jewellery, cash and even consumer durables as part of dowry to the in-laws. If they fail, the victims are burnt to death – they are doused in kerosene and set fire to. Routinely the in-laws claim that the death happened simply due to an accident.
Rape is the fastest growing crime in India. Every hour Indian women face two rapes, two kidnappings, four molestations and seven incidents of cruelty from husbands and relatives [National Crime Records Bureau Report 2006]