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India Has More Women Than Men For the First Time, According to the NFHS Survey

The National Family Health Survey also suggests that the population appears to be stabilising, marking the end of the population boom. 

Crafting history, the fifth National Family Health Survey carried out by the government between 2019 and 2021 has found that the gender ratio in India amounts to 1,020 women for every 1,000 men! The Health Ministry data also indicates a stabilising birthrate in the world's second-most populous nation. The country's reproductive rate has dropped to an average of 2—in urban areas, it is lower than 1.6—the first time it has been below replacement fertility levels.

The survey's data was drawn from about 650,000 households across India. 

 

india has more women than men

Comparison chart between the NFHS of 2015-16 and 2019-21

 

Replacement fertility levels suggest that not enough children are being born to replace the older generation, a scenario dissimilar to the case during the 1950s, where women had an average of six children. The discovery symbolises a societal paradigm shift—a remarkable moment for India that has witnessed significant levels of female foeticide, girl-child deaths and sex-selective abortions, on the skewed belief that women are a 'burden to society'. 

While prenatal sex discernment has been outlawed within the country (as per the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Regulation and Prevention of Misuse Act of 1994), the practice continues to persist in several areas. Similarly, female abuse and neglect seem to be problems the women of the country continue to face—raising the vital question: What is the route from gender parity to gender equality? 

Poonam Muttreja, the Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India, said: "It is heartening to see the improvements in the overall sex ratio. It reflects the strides that the country has made towards gender equality and women's empowerment." She added, "With greater access to literacy and education, the aspirations of women are fast changing. Girls are asserting themselves and taking charge of their lives, and will play a critical role in the growth and development of the country in the future."

Although, despite the apparent improvement in the male-to-female ratio, the gender ratio at birth remains at 929 women for every 1,000 men, showing that the issue of female foeticide is far from over. Sanghamitra Singh, Health Scientist at the Population Foundation of India (PFI) put forth, "The improvement in total sex ratio is positive and a step in the right direction, but much still needs to be done towards gender equality." 

According to UN projections, India is set to overtake China to become the most populous country—adding nearly 273 million people to its population between now and 2050—by the year 2027. The current population of China is over 1.4 billion, followed by India at 1.3 billion.