.........Women in the State seem to have finally embarked on their journey to empowerment as a survey conducted by an independent agency indicates that their participation in decision making, employment
and earnings, ownership of assets, hygiene and gender-role attitudes have shown significant improvement in the last one decade.
The findings of the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) show that about seven in 10 women participate in decision making of their own healthcare and major household purchases, as well as visits to their own family and relatives.
According to the NFHS-4 survey conducted by Mumbai-based International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), overall 60 percent of currently married women participate in making all three
of these decisions while their participation was 42 pc during the NFHS-3, which was released in 2007.
IIPS Assistant Professor Manas Ranjan Pradhan said while 72 percent women participate in decisions about healthcare and household purchases, 70 pc decide their visits to relatives and the participation varies most by age, increasing from 52 percent among women aged between 15 and 19 to 63 percent among women aged between 40 and 49.
The survey report states that 31 percent women have some money that they can decide how to use. The proportion of women with money that they control is higher among urban than rural women and it increases sharply with age. It is highest among women with 12 or more years of schooling (46 percent) and women who are employed for cash (57 percent) than any other group of women.
Several initiatives of the Government for financial inclusion of women also worked well as more than half of women (56 percent ) have a bank or savings account that they themselves use. Women's knowledge of micro-credit programmes is also encouraging as 67 percent admitted to having participated in such schemes.
The national family survey says 63 percent women and 85 percent men own a house alone or jointly while 47 percent women and 69 percent men own land alone or jointly. Ownership of both a house and land is more common in rural than urban areas for women and men.Quoting the survey report, Pradhan informed that about 39 percent women have a mobile phone and more than two-thirds (69 percent) can read SMS messages. As many as 65 percent urban women have a mobile phone compared to 33 percent rural women.
"Only one-third Christian women have a mobile phone followed by 39 percent Hindu and 60 percent Muslim women. However, Muslim women who have a mobile phone are less likely to be able to read SMS messages than Hindu and Christian," he added.