The safest state to be a woman in India is Goa, followed by Kerala, Mizoram, Sikkim and Manipur. States where women and girls are the most vulnerable are Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and, perhaps not so surprisingly, Delhi.
The findings of the first-ever gender vulnerability index (GVI) are expected to help identify the challenges women face with respect to four parameters — education, health, poverty and protection against violence — and assist policy makers mark out priorities.
The report was prepared by Plan India and released by the women and child development ministry on Wednesday.
The index puts Goa on top with a GVI of 0.656, more than the national average of 0.5314. Kerala ranks second, with a GVI of 0.634, primarily for its achievements in the area of health.
The index scores are on a scale of zero to one. The closer the score is to one, the better the performance. Goa also ranks first in protection, fifth in education, sixth in health and survival, and eighth in poverty.
At the bottom of the table is Bihar, with a GVI of 0.410, women and girls being the most vulnerable, less healthy and poorer among the 30 states. Education is also ranked among the lowest, and protection is unsatisfactory; 39% of girls got married before the legal age while 12.2% aged 15-19, when surveyed, were either mothers or pregnant.
Delhi ranks at 28, with a GVI score of 0.436, pulled down by its poor track record in education and protection, with the former ranked worst.
Nearly 29% of children in India are in the age group of 0-5 years. Yet, the child sex ratio (0-6 years) is at 919 and the sex ratio at birth is at 900. “Though the girl child comprises nearly half of the population under 18 years, girls in India face a spectrum of multifaceted issues at different ages,” said Bhagyashri Dengle, executive director, Plan India, which put together the index.What the index throws up clearly is that high achievement in one sector or dimension leads to stronger outcomes in others. There are of course outliers to this. For instance, both Sikkim (rank 4) and Punjab (8) exhibit high scores for all dimensions except poverty.