India continues to be the second most populous country in the world with a population of 1210 million; 623.7 million males and 586.5 million females as on 1st March 2011. Unlike in previous decades, there has been a significant decline in population growth rate in the last decade. The decadal growth rate has declined from 21.5 percent in 1991-2001 to 17.6 percent for 2001-2011. In 2011, the overall sex ratio was 944 females per 1000 males, which is more favourable to males. Although, the overall sex ratio has increased slightly from 933 to 944 during 2001- 2011, the child sex ratio of 0-6 years population has dropped from 927 to 914. The low sex ratio statistics is an indicator of increased gender inequality and marginalisation of women in India.
As per the 2011 census, about 30 percent of the population in India are young men and women between the ages of 15- 24 and a little more than one-fifth are adolescents aged between 10-19 years. While looking into the age structure of population over the last five decades, there has been a gradual decline in the population of individuals between the ages of 0-14 years in every census. The proportion of the population in the 0-14 age group declined from 41.2 percent in 1971 to 36.3 percent in 1991 and then further to 29.5 percent in 2011. On the other hand, the proportion of economically active population between the ages 15-59 has increased from 53.4 percent to 57.7 percent during 1971-1991 and further to 62.5 percent in 2011 (Sample Registration System, 2012). So, as a result of the steady decline in fertility and increase in life expectancy, India’s age structure has moved from a predominantly child population to a predominantly adolescent and adult population.
This policy brief is developed with an aim to review India’s sexual and reproductive rights (SRR) initiatives and policies introduced after International Conference on Population and Development- ICPD and identify gaps in implementation on universal access to SRR for evolving suitable advocacy recommendations.