Two new reports funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Women in Development and issued by the U.S. Census Bureau reveal great disparity between the sexes with regard to health and education.
The “Women’s Health in India” study found that Indian women’s life expectancy at 58.6 years is slightly less than men’s, who live an average of 59 years. This finding indicates that the state of women’s health is poor in India, considering that women consistently outlive men in most countries. “The fact that the typical female advantage in life expectancy is not seen in India suggests that there are systematic problems with women’s health,” read the report.
Indian women’s mortality rates were especially high in childhood and during their reproductive years. Over 100,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes each year, a mortality rate that is 57% higher than that of U.S. women. Researchers speculate that lack of prenatal care, a large number of at-home births, and lack of support from domestic abuse may contribute to the high mortality rates.
With regard to women’s education, researchers found that more than 200 million Indian women remain illiterate. Women’s literacy rate increased from 22% in 1971 to 39% in 1991, but that women still lag far behind men, of whom 64% are literature. Among the literate women, only 28% of men and 13% of women had had some form of secondary education as of 1993.
Both of the new reports are available on the U.S. Census Bureau Web site.