Indian Women and Reproductive Health

IntroductionThe reality of women’s life remains invisible to men and women alike and this invisibility persists at all levels beginning with the family to the nation. The more fact that “women hold up half the sky”- does not appear to give them a position of dignity and equality. Health

“Health is not mainly an issue of doctors, social services and hospitals. It is an issue of social justice”. WHO defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely an absence of any disease or infirmity”. Women play many roles as being a member of the family and society.

Women do more than 67% of the hours of work done in the world and earn only 10% of the world’s income and own only 1% of the world’s property. Women are paid 30-40% less than men for comparable work on an average. 60-80% of the food in most developing countries is produced by women.

Women hold between 10-20% managerial and administrative jobs. Women make up less than 5% of the world’s heads of state. 60% of the 130 million children in the age group of 6-11 years, who do not go to school, are girls. Approximately 67% of the world’s 875 million illiterate adults are women. 3 out of 5 women in southern Asia are still illiterate.

Women account for 50% of all people living with HIV/AIDS globally. In the year 2009 there were 80 million unwanted pregnancy, 20 million unsafe abortions, 5 lakhs maternal deaths. 99% of these cases were reported in developing countries. In india the status of the women is lower while comparing with men. The child sex ratio has dropped from 945 females per 1000 males in 1991 to 927 females per 1000 males in 2001. Participation of women in the workforce is only 13.9% in the women in the urban sector and 29.9% in the rural sector.

Women’s wage rates are on an average only 75% of men’s wage rates and constitute only 25% of the family income. Women occupy only 9% of parliamentary seats and less than 4% seats in high courts and supreme court. Less than 3% administrators and managers are women. Nearly 245 million Indian women lack the basic capability to read and write. Adult literacy rates for ages 15 and above for the year 2000 were- female 46.4% and male 69%. Women and society:

Although efforts have been taken to improve the status of women, the constitutional dream of gender equality is miles away from becoming a reality. NCRB (2002), noted that, for every 3.5 minutes, 1 crime was committed against a women in India in 2002. Female foeticide in India increased by 49.2% between 1999-2000. 16,373 women were raped during the year and 1 woman was raped every 32 minutes. 121 women were sexually harassed every day and 1 woman was sexually harassed every 12 minutes. 1 woman or minor girl was abducted every 36 minutes.

1 woman was murdered due to dowry every 66 minutes. A steep rise of 31.5% in domestic violence cases was witnessed between 1997-2002. 12,134 women were driven to commit suicide due to dowry. 63% had experienced sexual abuse at the hands of family members.

Out of 600 women respondents 76% had been sexually abused in childhood and adolescence. 42% of abusers were “uncle” or “cousin” and 4% were “father” or “brother”, over 40% married Indian women face physical abuse by their husband. 1 in every 2 women faces domestic violence in any its forms- physical, sexual, psychological and or economic. Health of the women

Health is considered as a fundamental human right and a world wide social quality of life. Health of women is not merely a state of physical well being but also an expression of many roles they play as wives, mother, health care providers in the family. Women in the past have suffered on account of neglect and discrimination as a result of which, their health status has remained below the desired levels.

Women have been subdued and continue to be so under the dominance of a complex social-cultural web, which conditions them to cope silently and not complain regarding their multifaceted health problems. In Indian context the female children before, during and after the birth have suffered a neglect, which is reflected in their higher infant mortalities, low proportion in the total population, female infanticide and even feticides, and lower levels of nutrition. Female children are being neglected even in terms of feeding practices as well.

The health picture of Indian women is still not satisfactory. Half of the young women in India get married before legal age of 18 years. Though there has been increase in age of marriage of girls, the proportion of married girls in age- group 15-19 is still very high. The median age at first birth for women age 20-49 was 19.6 in 1998. Teenage mothers face more risk in pregnancy and related health problems as those above 20 years of age.

The marital fertility in the age group 20-29 years is very high, adversely affecting the women’s health and their nutritional status, under weight, puerperal sepsis, toxemia, bleeding during pregnancy and malnutrition is widely prevalent. Birth of low weight babies and higher infant and maternal mortality are the consequences of these factors. Various studies have shown that nearly one third of infants are of low birth weight (