NFHS-5 Insights into Violence, Mental Health, and Women’s Empowerment in India

NFHS-5 Insights into Violence, Mental Health, and Women’s Empowerment in India


The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) showcases an alarming rate of violence against women in India, with significant implications for mental health and homelessness. Besides,


GS-02 (Government Policies & Interventions, Health, Gender)

Facts for Prelims:

  • Each iteration of the NFHS aims to deliver reliable data on health, family welfare, and emerging concerns in this domain.
  • NFHS-1 was carried out during the period of 1992-93.
  • NFHS-5 includes new topics, such as disability, bathing practices during menstruation, death registration, preschool education, access to a toilet facility, and methods and reasons for abortion.
  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR): The average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.
  • Sex ratio at birth (SRB) is defined as the number of female births per 1,000 male births.
  • Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height.
  • Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is defined as the ‘number of deaths of children under the age of 1 year per 1000 live births for a given year. For India in 2024 it is – 25.799 deaths per 1000 live births, a 3.08% decline from 2023.

Mains Question:

  • Many of the manifestations of mental ill-health appear to be embedded in the reality of adverse life events. Comment (250 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS)
  • Findings on Violence against women in India
  • Key Findings of NFHS-5

National Family Health Survey (NFHS):

  • The NFHS is a large-scale multidimensional survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • International Institute for Population Sciences(IIPS) Mumbai is the nodal agency for providing coordination and technical guidance for the survey under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
  • Funding: By USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, UNFPA, and MoHFW (Government of India).
  • Objectives:
    • It furnishes data on health and family welfare for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and other agencies for policy and programme purposes.
    • It helps by providing information on important emerging health and family welfare issues.
    • The survey also provides state and national information for India on: Fertility, Infant and child mortality, family planning, Maternal and child health, Reproductive health, Nutrition, Anaemia.

Findings on Violence against women in India:

  • The NFHS-5 findings shed light on the violence against women in India that indicates a strong correlation between experiences of violence, mental health conditions, and homelessness. Relational disruptions that are mostly fueled by violence, emerge as key predictors of homelessness among women seeking mental health support.
  • Reframing Madness and Women’s Mental Health: Historically, the label of madness has been wielded to marginalize and silence women who defy societal norms. Women’s experiences of madness are multifaceted, ranging from resistance to societal oppression to inward journeys of self-discovery.
  • However, mainstream discourse on women’s mental health tends to overlook the impact of violence. This leads to a reductionist approach that fails to address the root causes of mental distress.

Key Findings of NFHS-5:

  • Sex Ratio: The NFHS-5 data indicates a sex ratio of 1,020 women for every 1,000 men in India, marking the highest ratio recorded since 1881.
  • Sex Ratio at Birth: India saw 1,020 adult women per 1,000 men between 2019-2021, while the sex ratio at birth remains skewed towards boys, with states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and others exhibiting low ratios.
  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR): The TFR has gone down below the replacement threshold, standing at 2 in 2019-2021. This shows a declining trend in the number of children being born and a consequent aging population.
  • Child Nutrition: With decreases in stunting, wasting, and underweight percentages at the national level, it shows a marginal improvements in child nutrition indicators. However, overweight cases have slightly risen.
  • Anaemia: The incidence of anaemia has worsened across all demographics, affecting under-5 children, women, and men in various states, with most regions falling into the “severe” category.
  • Immunization: Full immunization for children aged 12-23 months has increased. Several states have achieved over 75% coverage, indicating progress in vaccination drives.
  • Institutional Births: Institutional births have risen substantially, reaching 89% at the national level. The highest rates was observed in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
  • Family Planning: Contraceptive prevalence rates have surged to 67%, accompanied by a decline in unmet family planning needs, indicating improved access to and acceptance of modern contraceptive methods.
  • Breastfeeding to Children: Exclusive breastfeeding rates for children under six months have risen from 55% to 64% at the national level.
  • Women Empowerment: NFHS-5 demonstrates significant improvements in women’s empowerment indicators, particularly in women’s access to bank accounts, highlighting progress in financial inclusion efforts.