As Madhya Pradesh goes to the polls, it confronts a pressing issue. The state ranks among the worst in socio-economic indicators for women and girls.
According to the 2011 census, reported by The Print, women’s literacy in Madhya Pradesh stands at 59.2%, against the national average of 64.64%.
The Print has reported that in Labrawada, the literacy rate of men is 83.06%, compared to 50.86% among women.
The state lags well behind the national average and its neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Gujarat in maternal mortality and the number of years that women have completed their education.
Agriculture in Madhya Pradesh has grown significantly during the last 20 years. Despite data indicating that up to 72% of the population is dependent on farmin,, women don’t seem to have benefited from these gains.
According to social experts, the patriarchal nature of Madhya Pradesh is largely to blame for the poor living conditions experienced by women in the state.
Although creating a more equal society has been a priority, government representatives have expressed difficulties in implementing welfare programmes in the state where a majority reside in rural areas.
Rakta Bai, an ASHA worker, told the portal, “People definitely have more money than before but women have still not become a priority. We give women information related to their health but they do not have money to spend on themselves. For the last few months, the government has been giving them thousands of rupees but it is spent only on household rations or children’s education.”
The Ladli Behna Yojana, which was introduced in March 2023 and provides eligible women beneficiaries (aged 21 to 60, subject to household income requirements) with a monthly allotment of Rs 1,250 (up from Rs 1,000 until September), is a key component of the BJP’s election campaign.
The ruling party has assured to up the sum amount should it retain power. The Congress has promised to take a similar initiative.