9.6.1 Women, who constitute half of the population, are generally not treated as equal with men in the matter of self-development although their betterment and well being are crucial to the progress, prosperity and peaceful existence of mankind. It is, indeed a matter of gratification that the Constitution of India grants equality to women. In order to ameliorate the material conditions of living for women, the Government of India enacted legislations for rapid economic development and ultimately, restructuring the socio-economic order in the country. A realistic appraisal of the success or otherwise of various Governmental measures, policies and programmes devised for the improvement of the status of women is not possible without the timely availability of reliable statistics and relevant indicators. The efficiency and effectiveness of a statistical system is judged by its capability to produce reliable data covering the entire spectrum of subject, bearing policy relevance and in its capacity to disseminate these data with a minimum possible time lag.
9.6.2 Gender Statistics as a separate subject area is of recent origin. These statistics are not collected separately but are arrived at by studying the male-female break up given by different data sources such as Population Census, large-scale sample surveys and Administrative Statistics. Of course, there are certain areas, which are exclusively related to women such as crime against women, domestic violence, maternal health, etc. Therefore, the current status accorded to Gender Statistics may be the same as given to other socio-economic statistics such as Population, Labour, Health, Education Statistics, etc. Like most of the Socio-economic Statistics in the country, Gender Statistics also suffer from problems of coverage, time lag and reliability.
9.6.3 Although the Department of Women and Child Development is the nodal agency for policy formulation with regard to the development of women, Gender Statistics are produced by a large number of Ministries such as, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Central Statistical Organisation, National Sample Survey Organisation, Registrar General of India, etc. Being a newly emerging area, the CSO has attempted to undertake a number of methodological studies in the field of Gender Statistics.
9.6.4 Keeping in view the importance of the Gender Statistics in the country, a number of steps have already been taken for improvement in its collection and compilation. The Central Statistical Organisation implemented a project, ‘Improvement of Statistics on Gender Issues’ during 1993-97, as a part of which, National Workshops were organised to facilitate the interaction of users and producers of Gender Statistics. In these workshops, a set of indicators for gender planning were identified and the status of databases on those indicators were reviewed. The indicators, on which data were already available, were included in a publication, Women & Men in India. For the indicators on which data were not available, a National Plan of Action (NPA) was prepared in which the organisations to bring out the specific gender-related data were identified. The follow-up of the NPA has already resulted in the better availability of sex-disaggregated data on some indicators such as land ownership by sex, availability of credit facilities from bank by sex, maternal mortality rate, etc.
9.6.5 Women and Men in India has now become a regular publication of CSO. Department of Women & Child Development also brings out, though not regularly, a publication entitled, Women in India. The Department of Family Welfare is also trying to give a sex-wise break-up of the children immunised. The National Crime Record Bureau is also attempting to improve its statistics on crime against women. Though, some attempts are being made for the coordinated development of the Gender Statistics in the country, much more remains to be done.
Non-availability of Data on Important Indicators
9.6.6 There are some data, which are very essential for appropriate planning at various geographical levels for the development of women. Even after serious efforts made by CSO and Department of Women and Child Development to emphasise the provision of male-female break-up by all the agencies, the representative data on a number of indicators are yet not available. Some of these indicators are given below:
Number of doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff in private sectors;
Distribution of persons affected by sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS by various socio-economic characteristics such as age, sex and social groups;
Number of sex workers and related statistics such as: (i) age, level of education and causes of initiation, and (ii) problems faced by them;
Data on crime against women such as: (i) age and sex of victims and offenders, (ii) social and economic backgrounds of victims and offenders, and (iii) level of education and employment status of victims and offenders;
Data on domestic violence;
Data on separate facilities for women such as hostel facilities for women, creches, etc.
9.6.7 Though, data on some of the above indicators are available through small research studies, they may not be useful for large scale planning. Data on many of these indicators will be difficult to collect by the official agencies. A mechanism has to be evolved to involve Non-Governmental organisations/research institutions to collect representative data on these indicators.
9.6.8 Female-headed households have different socio-economic characteristics as compared to other households. Though, some tables are generated for female-headed households from the employment and unemployment survey conducted by NSSO, these tables are available only at National and State level. Such tables could not be generated from Population Census 1991 because household schedules were not computerised. As the Population Census, 2001 schedules will be computerised, there is an urgent need to produce a few socio-economic and demographic tables pertaining to female-headed households.
Causes of Deaths and Maternal Mortality
9.6.9 At present, the Survey on Causes of Deaths conducted by the Office of the Registrar General of India provides some data on Causes of Deaths. However, due to layman reporting of causes of deaths and small sample size, the quality of data from this Survey is very poor. The Sample Registration System has attempted to work out the estimate of maternal mortality rate. However, these rates are presently available only for 10 large States and that too with a high standard error. As the maternal mortality rate is an important indicator for the study of status of women in the country, an effort has to be made to collect reliable data on this indicator either by improving the survey on Causes of Death or undertaking a large-scale sample survey.
Gender Development Index
9.6.10 The UNDP’s Human Development Report has been giving the Human Development Index since 1990 and Gender Development Index since 1995 for about 174 countries of the world including India. Many countries have brought out their own National Human Development Report. Unfortunately, in India no national report has been brought out by the Government. Of course, a few States have brought out such reports for their own States. For working out the life expectancy at birth and the per capita income at the district level, different States are adopting a different methodology. Due to this, inter-State comparability is a serious problem. Though some individual scholars have computed the value of HDI and GDI for India and the States, there are no official estimates of these indicators.
9.6.11 The HDI and GDI are very important indicators for planning purposes. For appropriate comparison of different States, there is a need to develop a standard methodology. Of course, such work can be attempted by NGOs and Research Institutions but there is a strong need for a set of official estimates of these indicators at regular intervals. For constructing such indices for India, there is a need to modify the UNDP methodology for calculation of HDI and GDI by incorporating some more appropriate indicators like poverty to make the indices representative of Indian situation. As the database at district level is still not very strong, such an exercise should be attempted first at the National and State levels and than at the district level also.
9.6.12 To bring out these indices at regular intervals, the statistical systems in the fields of health and education should be strengthened, so that the requisite data for constructing these indices become available at regular intervals with minimum time lag.
Conclusions And Recommendations
9.6.13 Even though some efforts have been made in the past for improvement of Gender Statistics in the country, a lot more remains to be done. The Commission recommends the following measures to be taken in Technical and Administrative areas:
The Department of Women and Child Development and CSO have already issued guidelines for collecting all data with a male-female break-up, wherever applicable. In order to ensure that relevant Gender Statistics are collected as per the guidelines, necessary instructions for compliance should be issued again at the highest level. All the censuses, large-scale sample surveys and Administrative Statistics should have a provision for collecting data with sex break-up, where applicable.
As several ministries and organisations are involved in the development of Gender Statistics, a high-level Standing Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, with representation from all the concerned ministries including Central Statistical Organisation should be constituted for ensuring proper reporting of Gender Statistics.
The Department of Women and Child Development, which is the nodal Department for various developmental planning for women, does not have a Statistics Division. Therefore, a Statistics Division headed by a senior statistical officer at the level of Joint Secretary, should be created. For better coordination with other ministries and departments including the National Statistical Office, the post should be manned by an Indian Statistical Service officer.
Indicators of gender disparity such as equity index should be computed at State level for every State taking into account the data available on socio-economic variables. CSO should develop appropriate methodology for computing Human Development Index (HDI) and Gender Development Index (GDI) at State level. Studies should be conducted using gender related data to highlight existing gender disparities.