Women Specific Findings of NFHS-5


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    • The recent NFHS survey stated that there is a dip in women owning property, but financial and social autonomy are improving.


    • National Family Health Survey 5 was conducted in 2019-2020.
    • Sample size: 
      • The NFHS-5 survey work has been conducted in around 6.1 lakh sample households from 707 districts (as on March, 2017) of the country; covering 724,115 women and 101,839 men to provide disaggregated estimates up to district level.
      • Information was gathered from 9,486 households, 11,159 women, and 1,700 men in Delhi.
    • It was done on 17 states on indicators related to: 
      • Population,
      • Health and nutrition,
      • Access to infrastructure, and 
      • Gender.
    • The survey was conducted in two phases due to the pandemic-induced lockdown. 
      • The first phase was between January and March 2020.
      • The second from November 2020 to January 2021.

    Key Findings

    • Ownership of house:
      • The number of women who own a house or land in Delhi, either alone or jointly, has significantly dipped over the past five years.
      •  In NFHS 4, 38.4% of women respondents reported owning a house/land alone or jointly, this has risen to 43.3% in NFHS-5.
    • Bank Account:
      • The percentage of women who have a bank account that they use, meanwhile, has gone up 8 percentage points
    • Access to mobile phones and internet:
      • Women who have a mobile phone that they use is up by 7 percentage points.
      • The percentage of women who have ever used the internet was around 64% as compared to 85% men. This data was not available in the previous survey. 
    • Household decision:
      • The participation of married women in household decisions such as health care for self, making major household purchases, and visits to her family or relatives have gone up from around 74% in 2015-16 to 92% now.


    Image Courtesy: IE 

    • Out of Pocket Expenditure in delivery:
      • The one area that has seen a significant improvement is the average out-of-pocket expenditure per delivery in a public health facility. It went from Rs 8,518 to Rs 2,548 in five years.
      • The reason for this could be two-pronged:
        • One, the number of families covered by insurance has gone up. 
        • The second could be that the Delhi government has made treatment and procedures in government hospitals completely free.
    • Health insurance coverage:
      • The percentage of households with a member covered under a health insurance/financing scheme has increased over 10 percentage points — from 15.7% to 25%.
    • Obesity: 
      • Meanwhile, obesity among both men and women has risen. 
      • While 41.3% of women are now overweight or obese, this figure is 38% for men. 
      • The rise in the percentage of men who are overweight or obese, however, has been faster in men than in women.
    • Sterilisation in women:
      • In women, the instance of sterilisation has gone down slightly — from around 20% to 18%. In men, this has remained static at 0.2%. 
      • The use of condoms, meanwhile, has seen an eight percentage point increase from 20% to over 28%.
    • Institutional Deliveries:
      • C-section births in India increased 4.3 percentage points over five years to 21.5% (NFHS-5) from 17.2%  (NFHS-4, 2015-16). 
      • Nearly half the total C-section births (49.3%) took place at private health facilities in urban areas. 
      • Cesarean births decreased only in Nagaland and Mizoram.


    • Monetary gains: C-Section deliveries figures are highly unnatural and call into question unethical practices of private health providers.it highlights their priority of  monetary gain over women’s health.
    • Anaemic women: More than half of the children and women (including pregnant women) are anaemic in all the phase-II States/UTs and all-India levels compared to NFHS4. Around 57% of women of reproductive age in the country are anaemic.
    • Lifestyle diseases:NFHS-5 highlighted the looming threat from lifestyle diseases like Hypertension, obesity, blood Pressure etc.
    • Sample size not enough:  Demography experts say the NFHS figures do not give an accurate picture of India’s sex ratio. They believe that the census figures were more reliable than NFHS. This is because Smaller sample sizes are taken in districts when compared to Census.
    • Illusionary women empowerment: Women who reported working in the past 12 months rose only marginally to 25.4% from 24.6% earlier.

     Way Ahead

    • Timely assessment: 
      • A periodic assessment of health and social development indicators is crucial for any country that is still clawing its way towards achieving ideal standards in the Human Development Index. 
    • Coercive policies for sex ratio at birth:
      • Policies, some even coercive, as in the case of the family planning sector, seem to have borne fruit, years after they were implemented. 
      • While gender ratio has, for the first time, recorded more women per 1,000 men, gender ratio at birth in the last five years still underlines the persistence of a deep-rooted son preference, one that has to be countered, through policy and law. 
    • Major gains required in field of nutrition: 
      • There are other areas too, especially in the case of childhood nutrition where marginal gains in say, wasting and severe wasting, are deemed insufficient, and require renewed corrective efforts. 
    • Capable infra: 
      • While this set of circumstances underscores the need for building resilient and fortified systems capable of delivering in the most trying circumstances.

     Source: IE