Women's Education in India

Nikita Parmar

Women's Education in India 

Despite the Indian government's strong commitment to universal education, India continues to have one of the lowest female literacy rates in Asia. In 1991, fewer than 40% of India's 330 million women aged 7 and above were educated, implying that over 200 million women remain illiterate today. This low level of literacy has a severe influence not only on the lives of women but also on the lives of their families and the economic growth of their country. Numerous studies reveal that illiterate women have a high fertility and death rate, poor nutritional conditions, limited economic ability, and minimal autonomy within the home. A woman's lack of knowledge has a bad influence on her children's health and well-being.

A recent investigation in India, for example, discovered that infant mortality was inversely associated with the mother's educational degree. Furthermore, the country's economic progress may be hampered by a lack of an educated populace.

Kerala maintained its lead with a literacy rate of 93.91 percent, followed by Lakshadweep (92.28 percent) and Mizoram (92.28 percent) (91.58 percent).

Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in the country at 63.82 percent, followed by Arunachal Pradesh (66.95 percent) and Rajasthan (66.95 percent) (67.06 percent).

In India, female literacy rates are lower than male literacy rates. In comparison to boys, fewer girls attend school, and more drop out. Women's rights are critical to the nation's progress. In this century, the country's economic wealth is dependent not just on males but also on women's. To strengthen women's roles in society, the government focused mostly on education and improving work prospects. To that end, the Indian government has created a slew of programs and plans to help them integrate into the mainstream of development. Women's socioeconomic situations have improved as a result of these measures. Women's nationalists were extensively appreciated after India gained independence. When the Indian Constitution was written, it offered women's equal rights, treating them as legal citizens of the country and equal to males in terms of freedom and opportunity. 

According to the Indian Constitution's 86th Amendment, free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14 is a basic right of the Indian people. Despite the fact that the Indian government has made certain steps, such as the "Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan" (the major goal of this initiative is to provide elementary education, particularly to female children from impoverished rural regions), despite these efforts, there remain still barriers to women's education.

Women's Education in India History

Women Education is critical to the general growth of the country. It not only aids in the development of half of the human resources but also in enhancing the quality of life both at home and in the community. Suguna (2011) The Indian education system is divided into two parts: Official and Informal Non-Traditional Schooling. Other educational programs, such as online education and distance education, have also been developed to encourage women's education. The major goal of the overall educational program is to educate every girl kid. This low literacy rate has a severe influence not just on women's lives, but also on their families and the country's economic growth.

Women had equality in all aspects of life throughout the Vedic Period. India was a lauded nation, and even its fellow people praised it for its brilliance. And people were quite cautious about reading and understanding the Atharvaveda, Upanayana, and other religious texts. Women's had access to education throughout the Vedic period, but this right was gradually eroded. Women had equal status and privileges in the early Vedic period. However, from 500 B.C., women's status began to deteriorate. Women played an important role in ancient India. Women's education was common in ancient India throughout the Vedic period. Historically, Indian women were thought to be superior to males. Women's rights were accorded prominence in ancient India, and they maintained an important place in Indian society at the time. The educational system was well developed throughout the Vedic period.

Historically, women have participated in all aspects of life with daring and zeal. There are several legends in Indian mythology about highly educated and developed ladies. The history of ancient Indian education may be traced back to the third century B.C., when instruction was delivered orally and many female academics participated. When Buddhism arrived in India, world-renowned educational institutes such as Nalanda, Vikramshila, and Takshila were founded. According to research, a lot of women were enrolled in these temples of learning. Muslim kings constructed universities in Delhi, Lucknow, and Allahabad in the 11th century. Even so, education has been discovered to be confined to a specific social stratum.

They were encouraged to read certain literature and practice them in order to comprehend all branches of information. Despite having passed through a rigorous period, the atmosphere around women's education has significantly deteriorated. The shame of being restricted to their different homes robbed women's education of its value in India. Women began to strengthen the joys of life throughout the age of Buddhism. Many famous universities were founded, and many women enrolled in allied courses to study.

Need and Importance of Women's Education

It is important in India, according to the International Encyclopaedia of Women's (1999), and different authors emphasize the significance of education in women's empowerment. Because work is so important in boosting women's standing in society, women's education is essential in every women empowerment initiative (Dominic and Jothi, 2012). Educating an Indian lady provides a critical chance for India's social and economic growth. An educated Indian woman will have a good influence on Indian society by contributing to the country's and society's economies. 

"Education for all" is one of the key goals undertaken by the Indian government, yet we still have Asia's lowest female literacy rate. India is functioning, but at a slow pace since we haven't achieved what we should have thus far. According to the survey, the countrywide female literacy rate in India is 70.3 percent, while the male literacy rate is predicted to be 84.7 percent. According to the NSO, India's average literacy rate is 77.7 percent. women's education is vital to the overall growth of the country. A well-educated lady can manage both her personal and professional lives. 

The following are some of the reasons why women's education is critical-

  • Fundamental Rights: Education is a fundamental entitlement for everyone, and when we say everyone, we must include women. All girls and women, rich or poor, young or old, married, single, widowed, or of any social class, have the fundamental right to an education. Education is a basic human right, not a luxury.
  • It promotes equality in society: When we discuss prejudice and inequality as an issue, we frequently misinterpret that it originates at the root level. For example:- When a boy goes to school and his sister stays at home, he begins to believe that he is superior to a girl. However, it teaches both men and women to promote the ideas of equality and democracy.
  • It empowers them, makes them independent, and aids in the development of self-confidence: Education is incredibly essential for everyone since it helps to build skills that allow an individual to provide services to others while also earning a living. A woman who is educated and capable of earning and carrying her own expenses does not need to rely on others or her family for her own needs. This gives kids the courage to make their own judgments and to recognize their own worth and individuality.

Women's Education-Welfare Programs

India has done very well in delivering education to its inhabitants. The national literacy rate is 73.2 percent, with 59 percent of women literate. In India, the government has introduced several assistance initiatives to encourage women's education.

The following are some welfare programs:

  1. Beti Padhao and Beti Bachao- On January 22, 2015, the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao social movements, known for women's empowerment, were started. The program's goal is to eliminate female foeticide and provide women with an adequate education.
  2. Hostels for Working Women- Working women's Hostels were founded to provide a working environment that incorporates accommodation amenities in order for women to have greater employment options.
  3. Training and Employment Assistance Program (STEP)- These programs give enough knowledge and empower women to be self-employed or become entrepreneurs in a variety of fields. This program is accessible to women over the age of 16.
  4. Mahila-E-Haat (Mahila-E-Haat)- The Ministry of Women's and Child Development introduced the Mahila program in 2016. It provides a forum for female entrepreneurs and small-business owners to showcase or sell their products and services.
  5. SABLA- The Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Employment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), often known as SABLA, was launched by the Government of India on April 1, 2011. It intends to provide meals and nutritional components.
  6. Swadhar Greh- The Union Ministry of Women's and Child Development developed the Swadhar Greh initiative in 2002. The program provides unassisted women with housing, food, medical attention, and clothes. Women who have been abandoned by their families and women who have survived a calamity are therefore provided with basic necessities.
  7. Scheme for a One-Stop-Shop- The Ministry of Women's and Child Development developed the One-stop Centre initiative on April 1, 2015, using the "Nirbhaya" budget. The system provides psychological services, legal requirements, police assistance, housing, and food to victims of violence in both public and private settings.
  8. Puraskar to Nari Shakti- The Ministry of Women's and Child Development has launched the Nari Shakti Puraskar program to recognize and empower women by honoring them for their outstanding contributions to society.

Read more about Women Empowerment.

Obstacles to Women's Education

Obstacles include geographical, socio-cultural, health, economic, religious, legal, political, administrative, and educational reasons, as well as measures by governments, non-governmental organizations, and other organizations to overcome female educational disadvantages. Gender inequality remains in India, and much more has to be done to improve women's education in the country. The male-female literacy rate disparity is only an indication, with the male literary rate being higher than the female. The ladies thought it was better to be housewives and live in the house (Bhat, 2015).

Many hurdles to female education in India exist. Some of the impediments to women's education are social in nature, stemming from gender stereotypes and inequity, while others are motivated by economic concerns and limits. As a result of gender profiling and stereotyping, women tend to participate more in programs relating to their domestic roles (Nair, 2010).

Factors Influencing Female Literacy

For a long time, women's education has been a hot topic in intelligent debates all over the world. We frequently hear individuals say that education is the fundamental instrument for governing and doing anything. It is one of those tools that no criminal can steal. Many institutes, universities, colleges, and schools have been constructed to educate our country's young. Nonetheless, of the 796 million illiterate people worldwide, more than two-thirds are women's. The problem is that an individual's education is centered on what education means to the family rather than the country as a whole.

Several reasons have been identified as being responsible for the decline in female literacy rates, which are as follows: 

  • Discrimination in the workplace
  • Gender disparities
  • Domestic duties are a young girl's child's occupation
  • Financial exploitation
  • Other often cited explanations for females' high dropout rates in elementary and middle school are as follows:
  • Too expensive
  • Less interested in academics
  • Marriage at a young age
  • Work on the family farm or business is required.
  • Required for domestic duties

Besides the aforementioned factors, females drop out for a variety of reasons, including a lack of nearby educational centers, risky modes of transportation, and a lack of suitable bathrooms.

Different Perspectives on Women's Education Problems

The following table shows the details of women education in India problems-

Systemic problems

Education's content and process

Economic, social, and cultural factors

Accessibility issue.

Stereotyping based on gender.


Schools are dysfunctional.

Gender prejudice is maintained.

Women's status

The standard of education

Curriculum relevance Language. 

The Price of a Family

Teacher motivation

Learning should be enjoyable. 

Domestic duties/child labor.

There are several distribution systems available, including official, non-formal, condensed, satellite, and residential.

Books, periodicals, newspapers, and other materials are readily available.


Working on or off the farm.

Calendar and timetable

Reading material suitable for the newly literate

Caught involved in fights for survival.

Steps to Improve Women's Education 

It is evident that the following objectives can only be met by first guaranteeing that women's receive a high-quality education. This will result in the development of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and other potential necessary for women to be fully involved in national development.

The following are the goals for improving women's education- 

  • Improve women's productivity, hence boosting their families' level of living.
  • It provides women with access to relevant technology and cooperative management.
  • Enhance women's societal and cultural standing.
  • Make it easier for women to carry out their tasks.
  • Assist women in overcoming their own worries and emotions of inadequacy or inferiority.
  • Educate women on all aspects of their growth, including mental, social, physical, psychological, religious, and economic development, among others.

Benefits of Female Education in India

If the nation's women were educated, the entire generation would be educated, resulting in the growth of the country. Furthermore, educating women's leads to several changes and a greater understanding of concepts.

The following are some of the advantages of female education:

  • Social advancement: women's education enables women's to overcome societal concerns and difficulties. The Kothari Commission of 1968 supported education as a tool for social advancement. India can achieve its goal of social development through educating women's.
  • Gender equality: Women are underrepresented in society. Education enables them to reduce the gender gap in society. Coeducational schools also educate male youngsters to respect females.
  • Economic productivity: Through women's education, the country may achieve economic growth and enhance its GDP as a nation.
  • Reduced infant humanity: Educated women understand their family condition and make appropriate and better judgments in the home to minimize family disputes. women's education also helps to reduce India's newborn mortality rate.
  • Improved living standards: Education automatically increases a woman's work opportunities. A well-educated woman has a higher chance of getting a decent career and a better quality of life.
  • Strengthening democracy: Education increases women's attention, which leads to more political participation and so to the strengthening of democracy. They might defend their rights by mobilizing.

Women's Education Non-Profit Organizations

Various organizations in India advocate and seek to advance women's education. These groups work to reduce the relevance of women's education and gender equality in India.

Non-profit groups that encourage women's education include the following:

  • Educate Females Bond: It expands educational possibilities for girls and promotes gender equality by giving education to young girls across India.
  • Global Grassroots: The organization develops community leadership among women's and girls by incorporating mindfulness into the creation of a social solution.
  • Pratham: It is intended to improve education for Mumbai youngsters.
  • Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED): It is a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged females thrive through education.
  • Girls Who Code: An international organization that aims to create chances for women to study and improve specific computer science skills.

Eight Powerful Women in Education

Women are seen as the nation's foundation; empowering women is analogous to empowering the nation. Indian women have made their country's name known and made us proud in every way.

The following are some of India's most powerful women:

  1. Avani Chaturvedi is the first Indian female fighter pilot to fly the MiG-21 Bison and is ready to take to the skies.
  2. Manika Batra is India's top-ranked female table tennis player, currently rated 47th in the world.
  3. Gita Gopinath is the first Indian woman to be selected as the International Monetary Fund's top economist (IMF).
  4. Hima Das is the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships.
  5. Chungneijang Mary Kom Hmangte is the only female World Amateur Boxing Champion. She has medaled in all seven world championships.
  6. Padmasree Warrior is the former Cisco CTO who was named one of America's top women in tech by Forbes.
  7. Seema Rao, commonly known as India's Wonder Woman, was India's first female commando trainer.
  8. Komal Mangtani, the world's most prominent female software engineer, leads Uber's Business Intelligence Team.

To be successful, we must bend down in front of them. They are the people who run the globe, and we must treat them with the highest decency in all aspects of life if we want to build the most powerful and renowned country. New tactics and efforts, such as socio-cultural practices, enhance women's education by offering social empowerment tools, such as access to education, health care, and legal equality.


Women play a critical role in propelling a nation forward and guiding it towards growth. Women's education is becoming more popular in India. They are important belongings of vibrant humanity, necessary for national advancement. Thus, if we want to see a bright future for women in our country, education must be a priority. Moving from a weak position to exercising power is what empowerment entails. Women's education is the most powerful tool for altering society's attitude. Education also reduces inequities and serves as a tool to boost their standing within the family. Women's empowerment is critical for attaining long-term development.

Socio-cultural practices that function as impediments to women's empowerment must be addressed as soon as possible. The government and commercial investors are both investing in programs that encourage females' education. Today, India is witnessing a social revolution in which women are celebrated in all facets of life, whether at home, in employment, or in politics. In the next few years, India may see more women at the forefront. A strong education lays the groundwork for a brighter future. Therefore, it is necessary to pay more attention to women's education.

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