Every day, 75% of women in India make time-consuming efforts to ensure their families have access to clean water (NFHS-5). But the toil does not stop there. The remaining hours are spent securing fuel and caring for others—gendered tasks that bind them even more to their houses. For these women, freedom is liberation from domestic drudgery, from having to undertake repetitious duties because of socio-cultural norms, and restricted access to resources like water, fuel, and home equipment.


  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a multi-round, large-scale survey undertaken in a representative sample of homes across India.
  • It includes data on key indicators that may be used to track the country's progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The national report also includes socioeconomic and other background variables' statistics, which may inform policy formation and program execution.
  • The NFHS-5 National Report details the transition from NFHS-4 (2015-16) to NFHS-5 (2019-21).
  • The International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) in Mumbai has been chosen as the lead institution to provide coordination and technical advice for the survey by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, UNFPA, and MoHFW have all supplied money for various rounds of NFHS (Government of India).

Brings the light of the NFHS-5 Report: conclusions on issues affecting women:

TFR (Total Fertility Rate):

  • The average number of children born per woman is referred to as the TFR.
  • TFR in India has fallen from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5.
  • Only five Indian states have fertility rates higher than the replacement level of fertility (RLF) of 2.1. Bihar, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Manipur are among these states.

The total fertility rate at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration, is referred to as replacement level fertility. TFR is usually called RLF when it exceeds 2.1.

Marriages between minors:

  • Overall, the national average of underage marriages has decreased. According to NFHS-5, 23.3% of women questioned married before reaching the legal age of 18, a decrease from 26.8% in NFHS-4.
  • Underage marriage occurs in 17.7% of males (NFHS-5) and 20.3% of women (NFHS-4).
  1. SRH (sexual and reproductive health):
  • Teenage pregnancy rates have dropped from 7.9% to 6.8%.
  • Contraceptive Method Use: Contraceptive use rises in communities and areas with more socioeconomic advancement.
  • Income Factor: The "unmet need for family planning techniques" is highest (11.4%) in the lowest income quintile and lowest (8.6%) in the highest wealth quintile.

Domestic Abuse Against Women:

Domestic violence at the national level has decreased slightly from 2015-16 to 29.3% in 2019-21.

 Institutional Births:

  • Ultimately, it grew to 89% in India (a 10% rise from NFHS 4 levels).
  • In rural regions, around 87% of births are delivered in institutions, whereas 94% are delivered in urban areas.


  • In the previous four years, the country's stunting rate has decreased from 38% to 36% among children under the age of five.
  • In 2019-21, children in rural regions (37%) outnumbered youngsters in urban areas (30%).


In most States/UTs, the prevalence of overweight or obesity has grown in NFHS-5 compared to NFHS-4. It grew from 21% to 24% among women and from 19% to 23% among males at the national level.

 Attainment of SDG Goals:

In all States/Union Territories, NFHS-5 demonstrates an overall improvement in Sustainable Development Goals indicators (UTs).

Women's decision-making abilities:

  • Household decisions include self-care, big household purchases, and visits to family or relatives. From 80% in Ladakh to 99% in Nagaland and Mizoram, participation in decision-making is increasing.
  • The differences between rural and urban areas are determined to be minor.

Sex Ratio:

  • According to NFHS-5 data, there were 1,020 women for every 1000 men in the country from 2019 to 2021.
  • This is the most incredible sex ratio for any NFHS survey and the first contemporary synchronized census since 1881.
  • In the 2005-06 NFHS, the number of women and men was equal (SR= 1000).

Birth Sex Ratio

  • For the first time in India, there were 1,020 adult women for every 1,000 men between 2019 and 21.
  • The findings, however, should not be used to dismiss the fact that India still has a sex ratio at birth (SRB) that is more biased towards boys than the natural SRB (which is 952 girls per 1000 boys).
  • The major states with low SRB are Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab.

Nutrition for Children:

  • Stunting has decreased from 38% to 36%, wasting has decreased from 21% to 19%, and underweight has decreased from 36% to 32% at the national level.
  • The percentage of overweight children has grown from 2.1% to 3.4%.


  • The occurrence of anemia in children under the age of five (from 58.6 to 67%), women (53.1 to 57%), and males (22.7 to 25%) has increased in all Indian states (20%-40% incidence is considered moderate).
  • Except for Kerala (39.4%), all states are classified as "severe."

Family Planning:

  • The Overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has improved significantly from 54% in NFHS 4 to 67% in India.
  • Unmet family planning requirements have decreased significantly to 9% in India.

Women Empowerment:

  • Women's empowerment indicators show significant development at the national level and throughout all phase II states/UTs.
  • Women operating bank accounts increased significantly between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5, rising from 53% to 79% at the national level.
  • In the second phase, more than 70% of women in each state and UT had functioning bank accounts.

The effect of drudgery on women:

  • Domestic drudgery (hard, monotonous, and dull work/labor at home) has serious repercussions, including weariness, musculoskeletal diseases, decreased immunity, and increased mental stress. It endangers the physical safety of women.
  • Drudgery impacts women from a young age. Despite the promise of universal education, the median number of years of schooling for girls is still 4.9, compared to 7.3 for boys.
  • Drudgery also implies less time available for childcare. This can have an effect on children's cognitive development and educational levels.

The bigger picture:

As per Ashoka University's Ashwini Deshpande and Jitendra Singh, the decrease in the female labor force participation rate (FLFPR) to 17% from 35% in the mid-2000s is due to demand-side issues in the labor market. The larger issue is India's slow economic development and sluggish rise in job prospects.

The future perspective: 

  • In 75 years, India has come a long way, with its second female President and brilliant women in every area. Women, however, are not yet completely empowered.
  • Even their hard-won victories over domestic duties are frequently the result of other women reinforcing their efforts. While it would be ideal to restructure family roles and duties so that men participate equally at home, a more systematic investment in the delivery of quasi-public goods, driven by sustained economic development and improved state capacity, is also required.