States with higher literacy rates for woman see better indicators for women’s health, IndiaSpend analysis of data from the National Family Health Survey 2013-14 reveals.
The education of mothers and their ability to make decisions affects infant and child mortality, according to this study published by the United Kingdom-based Institute of Development Studies (IDS).
This is evident in West Bengal, where female literacy rates rose from 58.8% to 71% (from 2005-06 to 2013-14), alongside a decline in infant mortality and an increase in institutional deliveries.
Similarly, Karnataka’s female literacy rate grew from 59.7% in 2005-06 to 71.7% in 2013-14. This has led to an increase in institutional deliveries from 64.7% to 94.3%.
Among the large states, Tamil Nadu saw one of the highest increases in female literacy over the same period, from 69.4% to 79.4%. Nearly 99% of all deliveries in the state were in a health institution in 2013-14-the highest in the country. The state also saw 64% pregnant women taking iron and folic acid (IFA) tablets thus preventing them from anaemia.
Impact of Literacy on Women’s Health
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Rising female literacy, later marriages, the ability to take financial decisions, better healthcare, cooking facilities and water supply are among the reasons why Indian mothers and children are living longer, IndiaSpend reported earlier.
The small hill state of Sikkim has a female literacy rate of 86.6%. This has translated to a low infant mortality (29 deaths per 1,000 births).
Bihar has a low literacy rate of 49.6% among women, and it has the second highest infant mortality rate or IMR (48 deaths per 1,000 births). Madhya Pradesh, with a female literacy rate of 59.4%, has India’s highest IMR of 51.