Manipur tops in women’s economy, 5th in GVI

AGENCIES NEWDELHI, 2nd Nov: Goa ranked top with Manipur in the fifth place and Bihar lowest in Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI) released by Child development NGO Plan India. In terms of economy for women, Manipur tops the list followed by Mizoram and Tamil Nadu.

The composite index has been developed within research for the NGO’s Plan for Every Child campaign which is aimed at comprehensively understanding the dimensions of various problems affecting children, particularly girls, in difficult circumstances.

The index, which provides a state wise ranking, has been calculated by analysing four issues pertinent to the situation of girls — child safety/protection, poverty, health and education. In the ranking, Goa is followed by Kerala, Mizoram, Sikkim and Manipur. Bihar ranked the lowest at 30, with Delhi faring only slightly better at 29 and Uttar Pradesh at 28. The highest ranking north Indian state is Himachal Pradesh at the sixth position.

The GVI report was released by Plan India on November 1 during its national conference in Delhi. The multidimensional index, which analyses more than 170 indicators, has been developed to serve as measurable evidence with the aim of assisting and influencing policy makers.

The education GVI, for instance, is analysed with the help of more than just state literacy figures. The state’s school dropout rate and existing school infrastructure are also accounted for in it. “The idea in this case is to analyse available data for all factors which comprehensively impact the ability for a girl child to get an education,” says Pradeep Narayanan, Director of Programme Policy and Strategy at Plan India. Similarly, poverty index accounts for indicators of income, assets and land ownership.

In the education scenario, 45.9 per cent of women have 10 or more years of schooling in Manipur. About 66 per cent of women are literate. Though 98.7 per cent of schools reported having a separate toilet for girls but only 24.5 per cent reported that the toilets are usable.

Kerala tops the list when it comes to the healthy women in the gender vulnerability index, followed by Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Punjab and Manipur among the top 10. The report says that Kerala also has the lowest rates of anaemia, including those among pregnant women.

In terms of healthcare, 12.6 per cent households in Manipur have no access to toilet facilities and are defecating in open. 76.1 per cent of women reported that they have used hygienic methods of protection during their menstrual period while 91 per cent of pregnancies are registering for ANC and 82.2 per cent of women are delivering in a medical institution.

"Although, 84 percent of married women in the country are participating in household decisions, collectively speaking, there are considerable state-wise disparities which imply that women in our country don’t have an equal voice across," the study says. The study finds that land ownership is an important indicator of gender inequality, as it increases her participation in decision making.

No surprise then that in Manipur, which is among the best-ranking states in terms of poverty, close to 70 percent women own land. However, extreme poverty is a cause of concern for the state.

About 63.1 per cent of women in the state have a mobile phone that they themselves use. About 68.9 per cent of women own land/property (alone or with other people) and 34.8 per cent women have bank account that they themselves operate. Besides, 4.8 per cent of elected representatives in Manipur are women.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (also among the best ranking states) display more female land ownership than the national average. Mizoram, where land ownership among women is far below the national average, surprisingly, also has the lowest poverty headcount ratio.

Uttar Pradesh, which ranks 29, in the list, has low rates of female land ownership, and high poverty headcount.

In economic participation, Manipur has 28.5 per cent of working women and 10.6 per cent of its total women population are unemployed graduate. In terms of financial inclusion, Manipur stands out as the state with the highest female household participation rates but the lowest financial inclusion estimation.

The proportion of women who are included in the financial systems is the lowest in Bihar, the worst performing state in the list. The state also showed women having the lowest household participation rates.

Safety of women has emerged as a real challenge across the country with cases of sexual assault often making the top headlines, and the states which perform the best in the dimension of protection are Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Tripura. However, violence against women (especially by their spouses) is still unacceptably high for both Punjab and Tripura and is a painful reality across all states.

In Manipur, 13.1 per cent girls are getting married before the legal age, 53.1 per cent women have ever experienced spousal violence and all girls who are victims and reported the cases under POCSO act knew their offenders.

Though the state governments took no time to revel over the ranking in terms of protection for women, the study says that in Goa and Himachal Pradesh, younger girls are at higher risk for sexual abuse and rape.

Delhi emerges as a clear outlier when it comes to crimes against women. The rate is also notably high in West Bengal.

Along the four dimensions, education has the third highest score on the Gender Vulnerability Index with Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Punjab, Maharashtra, and Goa emerging as the best performing states in education.

Poor educational outcomes and inputs have been regarded as both a cause and consequence of poverty and inequality and it comes as no surprise then that India scores similarly in both poverty and education, the report says. Collectively, India is moving in the right direction. However, the study says, there are stark differences across regions and years of schooling.

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