Literacy and women in india

Literacy is a state or condition which depicts that how many people of the society and the country are educated. It is an essential feature for a nation to grow and to be developed. The more people of the country are literate the brighter are the chances for the development of the country. It is basically a foremost need when we are considering the factors like development, growth and globalization of the county. Literacy in a lay man language means the ability to read, which ultimately shows that the person is educated and is able to think and act in wise and practical way. It makes the mind work and not letting it to be plagued with many inferior ideas and thoughts. The basic role of education is to enable the person to learn a required way of behaviour, thinking and acting in order to contribute towards the functioning of the society. Society needs to have wise, rational and practical individuals as its members, who can contribute their knowledge, skills and information for the betterment and the development of the same. Education enables the individual to understand the functioning of the society in a better way and makes his/her mind enough wise to understand the drawbacks of following the orthodox and authoritative ideologies, traditions and functions.


But in India, education has always been taken for granted and Not much concern has been paid to this aspect of development. At one side educated members of the society can lay down a strong foundation of growth and expansion then on the other, illiterate members of the society work as the restraining agents. A society cannot dream of building up an infrastructure of development, growth and  prosperity through the hands of it’s illiterate members. At present India has the highest number of illiterate population. According to the Latest Census Report 2011:

  • India’s literacy rate is 74.04%
  •  82.14% male literacy rate
  •  65.46% female literacy rate.

Very marginal increases in the literacy rate have been witnessed in these past years of the country. But what catches the serious concern over here, is the low rate of female literacy in the country. While considering the literacy rate of women, only Kerala is one such state where the women literacy (92.0%) is certainly high in comparison to other states and it is surely a matter of concern for those other states. Following are the States which have low rate of women literacy:

  • Andhra Pradesh – 59.7%
  •  Arunachal Pradesh – 59.6%
  • Bihar – 53.3%
  • Jharkhand – 56.2%
  • Jammu and Kashmir –58.0%
  • Rajasthan – 52.7%
  • Uttar Pradesh – 59.3%

The reasons for low rate of women literacy in India are many and moreover long established. First of all Indian society is a male dominated society and there persist a huge gender and sex discrimination according to which only a male is supposed to be the better and sapient entity in comparison to a female. A male is supposed to be the doer and administrator of the society, he is strong enough to control over the society and is accountable for the development and the proper functioning of the same. Hence, a male deserves to be literate because he has to take the hold of the family in future. A male is biologically enduring and energetic whereas a female is supposed to be tender and little weak entity. Old ideologies recommend the female as the best care takers of the family, her prime function or the role for the society is; Reproduction and child bearing. She should live under the walls of the house and take care of the family whereas the male should move out and earn the livelihood. So, here education is not at all supposed to be a necessary factor for females according to those orthodox and customized ideologies. Literacy in India is fundamentally perceived as essential only for earning the livelihood of the family. That is why male literacy is quite balanced and motivated in comparison to the literacy of women in India. Since a male is the bread earner so he should be suffice literate in order to earn for his family. Poverty, over-population and caste-system are also responsible for the low rate of women literacy. Poor families have to prioritize for the education of the boy and a girl. Primarily they consider the education of the son as more important since the son is going to be the head of the family in long run.


Today, in the modern era women are trying their best to break off the shell of old philosophies which project them inferior to men. Women are becoming aware of their rights but still a large number of women are still illiterate especially in the villages. In urban areas and cities women are however in a better state. They are aware and understand the value of education in their lives. They want to be educated not only for themselves but for their family too. Because they know that education would make them efficient and better personalities. Women in the villages are not at all aware and alert. They are simply illiterate and they have confined themselves in a limited periphery. For them education is something which is not meant for them , and if somehow they wish to be educated then, their families and community do not support them at all. Many a cases are noticed in villages where girls want to study, they also want to go to school as their brothers and other boys of the village do, but their families simply assassinate their aspirations and dreams because they feel a girl should rather learn the home chores at her best.


According to a 2009 report of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,
the male literacy rate was 86% and the female literacy rate was 69%.

Besides villages, among minority groups, schedule castes and tribes; girls and majority of women are illiterate. They are not allowed to go to school, some are not allowed to study till the higher secondary hence their studies are being ceased by their families. women literacy is a serious matter of concern for the nation today, hence besides uplifting the literacy in general this is the time to re-think and re-shuffle the way of attitudes and philosophies related to the literacy aspect of women. Policies and planning are many; to increase the ratio of women literacy but how many of them are actually paying off , is the matter of concern. following are the few suggestions that could be implemented in order to bring the change and increase in women literacy:

  • AUGMENTATION IN SOCIAL IDEOLOGY : till the time the social ideology doesn’t approve and value women’s contribution in the development and enhancement of the society, the idea of making the women literate cannot be commenced. Society has to understand that women equally play a significant role for the society and nation. Society should not forget the great contribution made by great women who are not only born in India but they have made remarkable endeavours for the growth and advancement of the country. Women should be now given equal consideration and weight age. Women should be empowered with rights and freedom of expression.
  • TEACHERS IN VILLAGES CAN PLAY BIG ROLE: villages are the most backward areas where awareness and facilities are always less to bring a change at large. Schools are not properly built and that’s also without facilities. There are so many villages where only one teacher is appointed for one school and he/she teaches all the subjects to the children. Here, not only teachers are required but genuine teachers are needed who can counsel the parents to send their girls to the school in fact the teacher can spread awareness at a large scale in the village through the medium of his own skills and knowledge. Teacher can aware the parents about the elementary education. Primary education is must for every child may it be a girl or a boy because it lays down the foundation and a lot can be taught in this primary education.
  • RESPONSIBILITY OF EDUCATED PEOPLE: education is like a gift; both the giver and receiver get blessed with.  Besides, the government plans and policies there is a big responsibility of the people who are educated and well settled. It is the time they should make a use of their education to spread awareness and knowledge about the importance of education and importance of the same for women. Government is doing its job but it is also a responsibility of the educated ones to come in front and make the people of the society, believe that there are so many benefits awaited in being literate. They should make the purpose of the education clear in people’s perception. In fact it would be commendable on their part, if they can take out some time out of their busy schedules to teach poor and deprived kids especially girls.
  • ELEMENTARY EDUCATION SHOULD BE GIVEN IMPORTANCE : elementary education (till fifth standard) works like a base for the development of a child. at this tender age the mind of the child is pure and clear. hence at this age if the child is given the basic education of all subjects, he/she would have a strong foundation of education in the long run. parents who think that education is not for girls and do not feel any need to send their daughters to school, they should at least be ready to give their daughters the elementary education so that their foundation can be laid down. this elementary education will never go in vain rather it helps in opening the horizon of mind, it helps the child in socialising and building up the confidence. therefore especially girls should be given the elementary education which would surely help them to build up their confidence among the family, in socialising and it may help her parents to observe the benefits of education for both of their son and daughter.

Education is not only a way to earn the livelihood. Education opens many other opportunities for further development and growth of the nation. India is now a global country and till when the Indian society would neglect the contribution of women towards the growth of the same? Having a low rate of women literacy does not only shows a simple statistics, rather it shows how deeply rooted orthodox and authoritative ideologies, does the Indian society still following! It shows how much firm the foundation of gender-discrimination is, in the present scenario! Having the highest number of illiterate population is not a proud, proud is when, those all illiterate people become educate and become a nation which respects the women and believes in bringing them in front to bring a big change at large.

Image courtesy :
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