The chief takeaway from the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey, which comes on the heels of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic that upended a billion lives, is that an increasing number of women are empowered and making or participating in decisions that directly affect or involve them.
Among the key findings in the survey report, released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in early May, 96 per cent of households use an improved source of drinking water and 69 per cent of households use an improved sanitation facility, while 19 per cent have no choice but to practice open defecation. About 97 per cent of households are electrified, but only 59 per cent use clean fuel for cooking. Some 27 per cent of the population is under 15 years, while 12 per cent is 60 and above.
On consumption of tobacco and alcohol, the report found that 38 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women aged 15 and above use tobacco products, while 19 per cent of men and 1 per cent of women aged 15 and above drink alcohol.
In the area of women’s empowerment, the survey said that women’s participation in decision making has increased since NFHS-4. It found that 85 per cent of employed women participate in decisions about the use of their own earnings, while 71 per cent of currently married women participate in decisions about their own health care and major household purchases.
According to the survey, 32 per cent of currently married women aged 15-49 are employed. About 79 per cent of women have a bank or savings account they themselves use and 54 per cent have a mobile phone they themselves use. The data also showed that 42 per cent of women own a house alone or jointly with someone, while 32 per cent of women own land alone or jointly with someone.
The report also showed that a remarkably high percentage of the population engaged in hand-washing, quite possibly a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s repeated exhortations to wash hands to prevent infections.
Regarding distribution of wealth, the survey found that 46 per cent of the urban population fell in the top quintile compared to only 8.1 per cent of the rural population, indicating the wider prosperity gap in the villages.
On consanguineous marriages, the report found that Tamil Nadu had the highest prevalence, with 28 per cent of ever-married women having married within the family, followed closely by Karnataka (27 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (26 per cent).