How Empowered Are Women In Jammu & Kashmir? Here’s What the Figures Say

Let’s use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to consider Jammu & Kashmir’s status of Women in the areas of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Here are  statistical figures divulge upon the disadvantages to which women of the UT are subject to that you need to know:

  1. The sex ratio for J&K at 889, as per the 2011 census for J&K, being below the national average, has been very disappointing.
  2. According to The National Family Health Survey-5 carried out in 2019 and 2020, belies our hopes. According to the survey, ‘there is a strong preference for sons in Jammu and Kashmir. The percentage of women and men who want more sons than daughters is 23 and 25 percent, respectively, but only 7 percent of women and men want more daughters than sons. Among women with two children, 65 % with at least one son want no more children, compared with 38% with two daughters. So, a deep rooted attitudinal bias can be seen persisting in the society. The scenario is equally bad in educational and health sectors. 
  3. The poor educational status of women in J&K has been further confirmed by NFHS which records that that Twenty-one percent of women compared to 9 percent of men age 15-49 have never been to school and only 33 percent of women age 15-49 in Jammu & Kashmir have completed 12 or more years of schooling, compared with 46 percent of men. 
    • Health-wise, an indication is given by NFHS which states that Sixty-six percent of women in Jammu & Kashmir are having anaemia, including 25 percent with mild anaemia, 38 percent with moderate anaemia, and 3 percent with severe anaemia. In terms of employment, NFHS-5 discloses that only 29 percent of all women age 15-49, compared with 73 percent of men, were employed in the 12 months preceding the survey.
    • As per the Crime Gazette brought about by the Crime Branch, J&K Police the total number of crimes against women has increased by 10% in the year 2021 itself. The number of crimes including rapes, kidnapping/abduction, molestation and cruelty by husband and relatives increased to 3873 in 2021 from 3517 in 2020.
    • The NFHS also notes the wide prevalence of crimes against women in J&K. According to this survey, 10 percent of women age 18-49 have experienced physical violence sometime in their lives, and 3 percent have experienced sexual violence. In all, 10 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence and 2 percent experienced both physical and sexual violence. 
    • NFHS records that Forty-nine percent of women agree that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under some circumstances. Women are most likely to agree that wife beating is justified if a woman shows disrespect for her in-laws (35%), followed by if she neglects the house or children (30%) and if she goes out without telling him (29%).

    The story of women in J&K, as told by the above statistics, clearly calls for an intervention by the state. The Government needs to immediately draft a gender policy that should be focused on reducing the gap that exists between men and women.

    Originally posted in Daily Excelsior by Vibhuti Ubbott

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