Women And Children In Uttar Pradesh: A Critical Analysis

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This Article has been authored by Anam Fatima student of BA.LL.B , 4th year from Integral University Lucknow.


 “I raise up my voice- not so that I can shout,  but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”    _ Malala Yousafzai

A woman’s life is full of challenges. Women are the pillars of the society and their role in the world is of foremost importance as they play a prominent role from birth till death. Women are considered as the backbone of every society and community. Women play the role of daughter, mother, sister, wife and they perform their duties best everywhere. Not only has this but women also played a great role in working areas. From taking care of families, nurturing their children to managing businesses and offices, women are ruling the world. There was a time when women were subjected to discrimination and inequality however the time is changing gradually and the image of a woman has been changed now. Women are growing in the entire field, they are fighting for their rights and raising their voices.

A woman’s importance in a house, family, society and world is indispensable. The world cannot exist without a woman. There have been many strong and powerful women in the world who are today an inspiration for the entire women community.

There is no doubt that children are the future of the world. It is very important to inject the best moral lessons, good habits, and quality education into these young minds. The success and growth of any society depends upon the youth in it. A society cannot develop without the contribution of these youngsters. Children are often called the building-blocks of society and it is true. A child’s health and education should be priority in every society, it is the mental and physical health of a child that will decide his future and his future will ultimately decide the future of the upcoming world.


Role of women and children is indispensable in the process of development. Their role is not limited to a specific field but they contribute towards the overall development of a society, they help in achieving economic, cultural and social development of a society. Major factors that should be taken into account are- empowerment of a woman and social and overall well- being of a child as these factors are essential for the purpose of sustainable development. 

It is a fact that women are the pillars of society and children are the future of the nation so these two sections of society are very important for improving any society. It is very necessary to provide rights, equal opportunities and empowerment to a woman so that she can contribute towards the growth and development of society. Similarly, when we invest in good education , health of one child , we prepare ourselves for a better future and in this way there can be more inclusive growth of any society or nation.


Uttar Pradesh is considered as the most populated state among all the states of India. There are 908 women for every one thousand men in the state of Uttar Pradesh. As per the latest census data, total population of Uttar Pradesh is 199,812,241 out of which the numbers of women/ females are 95,331,831.

Status of women basically means their position and place in the different- different areas of society as compared to men. The India constitution provides equality to all the citizens irrespective of their genders. Article 14 and 15 are being incorporated by the constitution makers in order to provide equal opportunities to both and women however when we talk about the women of Uttar Pradesh then studies and research shows that the state is not performing well enough in removing gender inequalities. With sex ratio of 908 females per 1,000 males, the state of Uttar Pradesh ranked 26 amongst all Indian States as per Census 2011. 

The equal remuneration Act, 1976, that has been enacted by the parliament binds the employer to pay equal salary to both men and women workers for the same work but still women are paid less in comparison to men and this practice is seen not only in the state of Uttar Pradesh but in many other areas also. It is to be noted that this discriminatory practice is very much prevalent here in Uttar Pradesh. The disparity in male and female wages in Uttar Pradesh was as high as 73 per cent in rural areas and 31 per cent in urban areas as per National Sample Survey 2011-12. 

Women also continue to face discrimination in government wage employment and self-employment programmes including skill development in the State. It is a proven fact that illiteracy holds back any society from developing and achieving new heights. The illiteracy rate among women is higher as compared to men in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Literacy rate of women is 57.18% whereas the men’s literacy rate is 77.28% and when we talk about female literacy, the state of Uttar Pradesh holds the rank number 31st among all the Indian states and Union territories.

Ordinarily Uttar Pradesh remains in the limelight for high crime rates against women however it is a good point to be mentioned here that the findings of the National Family Health Surveys 2020-21 has shown hope for females and the women of Uttar Pradesh. According to their reports, the condition of women is changing gradually in the state. The reference period is between two surveys, 2015-16 to January 2020-April 2021, enabling us to see the change as well as the pace of change. According to the survey the sex ratio birth has displayed a gradual improvement in male/female ratio.

Women’s representation from the state of Uttar Pradesh in the parliament is poor. Uttar Pradesh is the same state who witnessed its first dalit-woman chief minister Mayavati, Uttar Pradesh has the distinction of sending the first woman Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi to the parliament. The past of Uttar Pradesh has been good for women in terms of politics but despite that the representation of women in parliament is less.                   

UP is frequently perceived as being rich and populous. Extreme violence against women, including well-publicized rapes that end in murder and high rates of domestic abuse, is a common topic of news coverage. Because they have little freedom or agency and are subject to strict patriarchal norms, women and girls in the state are viewed as particularly disempowered. UP has never been a place for women, with a historically skewed sex ratio, high son preference and high fertility, low levels of education for girls, low female labor force participation, and the seclusionist practice.

According to Rustogi (2004), between 51 and 59% of women cast ballots in the eight general elections held between 1977 and 1999. As a result, women’s involvement in public- decision making is steadily increasing. Trends in fertility are yet another crucial sign that women’s wellbeing is improving. The adolescent fertility rate has decreased as well as the number of women between the ages of 20 and 24 getting married before turning 18; these two factors contribute to the decline in fertility.

A survey also reveals a decrease in the unmet need for contraception and an increase in the use of family planning techniques by women. Despite strong opposition from patriarchal men, government initiatives are helping women take charge of their bodies and reproductive decisions. Even though patriarchal men continue to vehemently oppose women’s autonomy over their bodies and reproductive choices, government initiatives are beginning to bear fruit.

Speaking recently to a sizable gathering of women in Prayagraj, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed women’s empowerment in Uttar Pradesh. However, only 9% of Uttar Pradesh’s workforce is made up of women; only Bihar has a lower percentage at 5%. According to official data, 91% of women in Uttar Pradesh are not employed.

The only state where women’s labor force participation is lower than Uttar Pradesh, at 9%, is Bihar. According to official data, 91% of women in Uttar Pradesh are not employed.

Since 1973–1974, the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of the Government of India has been estimating the workforce and its characteristics in every state in the country. The nation’s unemployment rate increased significantly between 2011–12 and 2018–19, hitting a 46-year high.

The prime minister had promised to double farmer income between 2015 and 2022, but between 2017 and 21 Uttar Pradesh’s economy grew by a pitiful 0.43% annually per person.

Across all categories, Uttar Pradesh’s workforce decline is significantly greater than the country as a whole.The percentage of Indians enrolled in secondary education was only 58% in 2010. By 2015, that number had risen to 78%, but it has since plateaued.

While the national secondary enrollment rate in India was 78% in 2019–20, Uttar Pradesh had a lower rate of 66% (68% for boys and 63% for girls). Due to the lack of opportunities in agriculture, where their parents were employed, these young people aspire to careers outside of farming. However, those jobs are not available locally, so people who are not from Punjab or Delhi migrate to the south and west of India.

Since 2012, the percentage of “regular salaried workers (RSW)” has increased due to rising levels of education. But for these regular workers in Uttar Pradesh, especially in the cities, the quality of their jobs has declined. The percentage of regular workers in 2011–21 who had “no written job contract” was high for both men and women (61% and 53%, respectively) in 2011–12. In 2018–19, these percentages rose to 64% and 55%, respectively.

Furthermore, the vulnerability of both men and women has increased with regard to eligibility for paid leave and access to social security. Between 2011–12 and 2018–19, the proportion of urban RSWs without social security rose from 54% to 64% for men and from 51% to 55% for women. This rise suggests that regular salaried work is becoming less formal.

Government of the Uttar Pradesh is striving hard to improve the condition of the state and so new steps are being taken for women empowerment, the government wants to establish the state as the safest place in the entire country, according to a relevant source- as of August 4- 98.10% cases have been resolved by the women and safety organisation. It has been observed that the government is not at all kind to the wrongdoers and takes strict actions against the criminals who are disturbing the peace and playing with women ‘s safety.

The Mission Shakti is a wonderful initiative for women safety, progress and empowerment. Launch of the mission shakti in Uttar Pradesh was attended by the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh himself and many girls were also invited and they marked their presence at the launching day. The mission started on the date 17th October 2020. This campaign in Uttar Pradesh was inaugurated in the district of Balrampur (police line). This mission provided employment opportunities to the women of the state and has enhanced the economic status of women

A press conference reported that the chief minister is very attentive when it comes to the crime against women and he himself takes the cognizance of the crimes. 1090 i.e., the women’s help desk is working wonderfully for helping women. Under the Uttar Pradesh state rural livelihoods mission, around one crore women of the rural areas have been linked to self-help groups.


Uttar Pradesh has a lower percentage of married women who participate in household decisions on average than the national average. But fewer women are permitted to go alone to three place- market, medical facility and outside the neighborhood, and most of the time they require a guardian to make decisions, in a similar vein,women are less likely than males to have a bank account that they personally use,  although they still have strong percentage in certain states.

Recently, UP police were observed going to different schools in the town of Barabanki. At one of the schools, a superintendent of police gave a lengthy speech to the children on women’s safety and the importance of “raising their voice against crimes” in order to bring about justice. As said, a Class XI girl confronted the superintendent in the audience, questioning how the UP police could guarantee women’s safety while the “accused” is a “powerful minister” and the police administration continues to be complicit in their protection.

The girl’s reaction is a part of the widespread indignation about the way the UP police handled the rape complaint that a 17-year-old girl from the Makhi hamlet of Unnao filed a few years ago. The ongoing defense of the rape victim against the accused.

Recent data from NFHS (National Family Health Survey) study suggests how UP now ranks first in incidence of (reported) crimes against women. These include all cases filed under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special Local Laws (SLL).

In crimes related to acid attacks (or attempts), UP has the worst state-wise numbers (with the highest reported cases after West Bengal). In domestic violence cases (including cases reflecting ‘cruelty by husband’), UP has the highest number of reported cases (11,156) after Rajasthan (13,811).

Furthermore, only 15% of respondents who reported having been the victim of physical or sexual abuse by someone said they had sought help, according to a survey completed by over 10,800 women from all of the state’s districts. At the time of the study, approximately 77% of the women who were interviewed did not seek assistance or disclose the violence to anyone. Just 4% of those who said they would have sought assistance did so by reporting the incident to the local police. This demonstrates the severe issue of underreporting (as well as the dearth of legal assistance) that continues to prevent the majority of women from reporting acts of violence against them.

Approximately 33% of women in the 15–49 age range reported having experienced “physical violence,” either inside or outside the home, according to data on crime against women in Uttar Pradesh. Of these reports, 94% were of a “sexual” nature. In domestic violence cases, the number of victims has been steadily increasing in recent years. For “married women victims,” the most frequent abuser is still the husband; for “unmarried victims,” the most common abusers are the mother or stepmother (followed by “siblings,” “father,” or “teacher”).

In the first year of the Yogi 2.0 government, there has been a sharp increase in the conviction rate for crimes against women and children. According to data from the home department, convictions were obtained in 671 rape cases, 537 dowry deaths, and 2313 protection of children from sexual offences Act cases in 2002. Comparing the conviction rate under these headings to the corresponding figures from the previous year, there was an improvement of 5 to 10%. 

According to the data, 736 people were sentenced to life in prison in these cases, while five people received death sentences. In a similar vein, 1860 received life sentences lasting longer than ten years.

According to recent data from NITI Aayog on gender-based performance rankings of states, 42% of men believe that “wife-beating” is acceptable when a wife argues with her husband (24%), shows “disrespect” for her in-laws (28%), or if the husband “suspects her” of being unfaithful to him (23%). Approximately 71% of people, even those with only a basic education and a minimum of twelve years of schooling, concurred that a husband has the right to physically abuse his wife for any of the aforementioned reasons.

This suggests that there is an increasing culture of violence against women, which is having an impact on their status from the home to the workplace and on their ability to advance socially and economically. Women from all social classes and castes in a state where entrenched patriarchal norms have suppressed women’s agency for many years shared a common “fear” of violence.


The female labor force participation rate in Uttar Pradesh is relatively high compared to the extremely low rate in the rest of India. The fact that Uttar Pradesh does not even make the list of the top 23 states indicates that the state has one of the lowest female work participation rates (FWPR). Therefore, when it comes to gender differences in work participation, Uttar Pradesh leads the way.

The community doesn’t accept or prefer women workers because they have lower decision-making authority and the lowest literacy rate, Anaemia in females across various states- The majority of Indian women are anemic. Women in Uttar Pradesh and eastern India are particularly susceptible to iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and H.B. deficiencies. Uttar Pradesh is ranked twenty-first, which is higher than the other states.  Infant Mortality Rate for Females For biological and genetic reasons, male infants are generally known to be more vulnerable to death than female infants.

In India, however, the infant mortality rate for females is higher than for males, which is indicative of sociocultural influences on mortality. The state of Uttar Pradesh has the highest rate of female infant mortality in India, ranking first overall with an IMRF of 63. This is not a good sign because the state ranks first overall in the nation.


It is noteworthy that more Indian girls than ever before are receiving an education, if not up to the secondary level. The percentage of Indians enrolled in secondary education was only 58% in 2010. By 2015, that number had risen to 78%, but it has since plateaued.

Twenty years ago, Amartya Sen argued that in order to gauge women’s empowerment, we should look at four sets of indicators: their level of education, their capacity for earning an independent living, whether or not they work outside the home (i.e., not in agriculture, where they perform unpaid family labor on the family farm), and whether or not they own assets. In this article, we look at indicators for the majority of these variables for Uttar Pradesh.

While the national secondary enrolment rate in India was 78% in 2019–20, Uttar Pradesh had a lower rate of 66% (68% for boys and 63% for girls). Due to the lack of opportunities in agriculture, where their parents were employed, these young people aspire to careers outside of farming. However, those jobs are not available locally, so people who are not from Punjab or Delhi migrate to the south and west of India.

The number of girls and women in education in Uttar Pradesh rose noticeably over the course of the two years (2017–19), by roughly 2.48 million, but this is hardly an adequate explanation for the absolute decline in the number of women entering the workforce, which is 6.3 million, or 2.5 times the number of girls and women in education.

According to NFHS 5, 2021, the percentage of literate men and women in Uttar Pradesh has increased to 82% and 66%, respectively. Comparably, between 2015–16 and 2019–21, the percentage of women in Uttar Pradesh with more than ten years of education increased from 33% to 39%, while the percentage of men increased from 42% to 48%. However, the number of employed people is actually declining, indicating that millions of people are growing up without an education, without training, and without a job.

Since 2012, the percentage of “regular salaried workers (RSW)” has increased due to rising levels of education. But for these regular workers in Uttar Pradesh, especially in the cities, the quality of their jobs has declined. The percentage of regular workers in 2011–21 who had “no written job contract” was high for both men and women (61% and 53%, respectively) in 2011–12. In 2018–19, these percentages rose to 64% and 55%, respectively.

Furthermore, the vulnerability of both men and women has increased with regard to eligibility for paid leave and access to social security. Between 2011–12 and 2018–19, the percentage of urban RSWs without social security increased from 54% to 64% for men and from 51% to 55% for women. This increase suggests that regular salaried employment is becoming more formalized.


The population of the state of Uttar Pradesh is roughly equal to Brazil. When we look at the census of the year 2011, it states that the child sex ratio has deteriorated and forced labor among children has increased. Sadly, number of children engaged in child labour are highest in the state of the Uttar Pradesh. According to a relevant report, There are around 2, 50,672  children that are involved in working as a child labour in Uttar Pradesh. 

A scheme was introduced in the name of “the integrated child development scheme”, the aim of the scheme was to strengthen the base of the children by improvising their physical and emotional development however this scheme has a limited reach as it covers only half percentage of the above mentioned population.(2,50,672). There are a number of children in the state of Uttar Pradesh who are unable to join schools due to many reasons and they ultimately join their parents to their workplaces such as factories, tea stalls and poverty is the biggest reason behind this.

There are factories which deal with very dangerous and hazardous works but still children as laborers are seen in such factories also. Most factories in Firozabad perform the work of glass making and such factories are highly risky for people of any age and minor children do work there for the sake of small earnings. The recent amendment in the Child Labour Act with the intent to ban engagement in any kind of labour for children under 14, allows children to work in family occupations; thus defeats the purpose of preventing these children to be exploited as labour.

Despite recent developments and improvements, According to a survey by Lucknow based health and wellness start-up, many of the school going children of Uttar Pradesh suffer from medical problems. A complete and systematic study was being done on over three thousand children in nine districts which showed that approximately 76% of children were suffering from medical issues and health disorders.

Uttar Pradesh produces 2% of the world’s working-age children. Among the nation’s working-age children, Uttar Pradesh accounts for more than 21%. Children between the ages of five and nine have a 3% work participation rate. The child labour participation rate for the 10–14 age groups is 6%.

Three percent of all workers in the State are underage minors. Three percent of all workers in the State are underage minors. When comparing the 2011 census to the 2001 census, the number of child laborers in Uttar Pradesh increased.


Fact must be admitted that there are many challenges before this particular state as it is the most populated one and so it brings more challenges as well. In Uttar Pradesh nearly 700 children under the age of five years die each day so it is mandatory to improve the health facilities and also prevention and management of childhood illness should be a priority. The state of Uttar Pradesh is home to around 85.3 million children, for ensuring peaceful survival to these children UNICEF provides crucial support to the state government in crucial areas such as water, sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, education. UNICEF also works along with the state government to avoid and prevent maternal and neonatal deaths. The state government of the Uttar Pradesh is working closely with UNICEF for bringing a positive change and for the welfare of the children of the state .UNICEF provided its support to the government of the Uttar Pradesh, UNICEF was instrumental in rallying thousands of people to aid in the eradication of Polio from the state, making it one of the largest public health campaigns in history. 

The state government of Uttar Pradesh runs a programme i.e. POSHAN ABHIYAN PROGRAMME and as a part of this programme, UNICEF Offers technical assistance for nutrition services for mothers and children. Not only  this but UNICEF also helps government nutrition rehabilitation centers (NRCs) provide high- quality care, prevents and treats anemia, trains healthcare professionals to recognise and treat common childhood illnesses, encourages breastfeeding and early child feeding, and fortifies early childhood care facilities. UNICEF gives its support to the Indian  bharat mission, sanitation programmes, cleanliness and hygiene programmes in schools. Technical support is also being provided by UNICEF to the state government of Uttar Pradesh for nourishing child-focussed disaster risk governance and enhancing resilience of the most vulnerable groups. The role of UNICEF is not limited here; the government gets assistance from UNICEF for the scheme of social protection related to children, policy support, evidence generation, monitoring and evaluation.

 In collaboration with AHTU, Child Line, and civil society organizations, the state government conducts quarterly special drives for the identification, rescue, and rehabilitation of child labor. The state action plan for the elimination of child labor is another effort. 

  • Naya Savera”: a project for child labor-free villages in certain districts where child labor is a risk;
  • Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme for Child Labor from Child Headed Families; 
  • Sarvodaya: a Gonda district initiative • Monitoring system at the district and state levels; 
  • Awareness and communication campaign. The National Child Labour Project covers 46 districts. A corpus fund of Rs. 10 lakhs is available in each district for immediate relief in the event of child bonded labor.  


According to the recent data of the National Crime Record Bureau, the state of Uttar Pradesh is at the top of the list in crime against minors. Uttar Pradesh contributes 15% of the total crime rates against children in the nation. The data analysis also suggests that the second biggest category of crime against children in terms of numbers is rape, amounting to more than 18% of all crimes against kids, while crimes under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences act constitute around 4% of total crimes. Data also suggests that a sharp increase of 11% has been recorded in crime against children in the country between the years 2015 and 2016. In the year 2016, total number of crimes recorded against children were 1,06,958 whereas the numbers were comparatively less in the year 2015 i.e., 94,172.


Children in the state are stunted and susceptible to infections due to poor nutrition. Children under the age of five do not have a good nutritional status, according to an analysis of secondary data. Of the 19 principal districts in Uttar Pradesh, only the districts of Ballia (39.6%) and Basti (39.6%) have stunted children at or near the national average (38.4%). There are only four districts where the percentage of wasting children is higher than the national average (21%), namely Pratapgarh (23.8%), Jaunpur (27.3%), Varanasi (25.3%), and Sonbhadra (22.5). Out of the 19 major districts, 10 have the lowest Underweight scores when compared to the entire country.

Here, we first examine the current state of children’s health in this field of study before looking into government policies and initiatives. Of all the states in the nation, Uttar Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate. Compared to the NFHS-2 estimate of 89 deaths per 1,000 live births, the infant mortality rate in NFHS-3 is estimated at 73 deaths . With 96 deaths per 1,000 live births, the under-five mortality rate is likewise the highest in the nation. In NFHS-4, this mortality drastically decreases to 63 deaths . Despite the fact that child mortality rates have decreased in this state, there are still a number of important factors that contribute significantly to the poor health


A great program to improve the nutritional health of millions of children is the Mid-Day Meal. In addition to providing food, a thoughtful intervention in the program can refocus attention on the children’s nutrition. According to numerous studies, the program’s main goals are to decrease malnutrition, shield kids from hunger in the classroom, and increase school.

The program’s main features are as follows

  1. providing food items that provide 300 calories per day and 12–15 grams of protein per child, covering primary school children in a phased manner; 
  2. spending sixty paise per child per day, including administrative expenses;
  3. not constructing elaborate administrative infrastructure;
  4. funding the program from provisions marked for poverty alleviation scheme; 
  5. states should develop appropriate logistics and make arrangements for cooks, helpers, administration, supervision, and monitoring at the regional level.

It was acknowledged that the plan had a few unavoidable issues, but these are not the main points of concern. The mid-day meal program was started primarily to increase student enrollment and improve social equity in the classroom. However, just 69% of children in Uttar Pradesh between the ages of 6 and 17 attend school, and both urban and rural areas have similar rates. Eighty percent of children (6–10 years old) enrolled in primary school (78% in urban areas and 81% in rural areas) attend school. For kids ages 11 to 14, school attendance falls to 73%, and for kids ages 15 to 17, it only reaches 40%. Interestingly, data from the Performance Evaluation of -MDM (2010) indicates that 100% of students are enrolled in schools, and this isn’t due to school lunch programs.

In terms of children attending or enrolling in schools, this has regrettably increased on paper, but the consistency is not apparent. Every enrolled child arrives at school on the day that private manufacturers visit to promote their products or when school uniforms and scholarships are awarded . Increasing regularity and learning outcomes is just as crucial as increasing enrollment. Raising awareness and promoting education that is learning-focused can help achieve this.


The government implemented a program to combat childhood hunger. Sabri Sankalp Yojna is one of these, where district-level officials would adopt two villages and ensure the National Nutrition Mission’s proper operation. After the “Rajmata Jijau Mother-Child Health and Nutrition Mission” proved successful in the government of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh launched “the Nutrition Mission” in 2014. This program’s main goal was to fortify the delivery systems and quicken the process of decreasing malnourishment . Over a ten-year period, the Mission sought to improve five nutrition outcomes -including the rates of exclusive breastfeeding, anemia in women of reproductive age, underweight and wasting, and stunting. As a result, the Mission is split into a 10-year period. 


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