UNFPA’s Perspective on India’s Demographic Landscape

GS-1 Mains : Geography 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 


Question : Evaluate the progress made and persistent inequalities highlighted in the UNFPA report regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights in India.

Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report, titled ‘Interwoven Lives, Threads of Hope: Ending Inequalities in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights’

India’s Population

  • Estimated at 1.44 billion, surpassing China (1.425 billion)
  • 24% in the 0-14 age bracket
  • Population is expected to double in 77 years (based on 2011 census data of 1.21 billion)

Demographic Categorisation

  • 0-14 years old: 24%
  • 10-19 years old: 17%
  • 10-24 years old: 26%
  • 15-64 years old (working age): 68%
  • 65 years and older: 7%
  • Life expectancy: Men – 71 years, Women – 74 years

Progress & Inequalities

  • Progress:
    • Global unintended pregnancy rate down by 20% in 30 years
    • Doubled number of women using modern contraceptives
    • 162 countries with laws against domestic violence
    • 34% decrease in maternal deaths since 2000
  • Persistent Inequalities:
    • Gender-based violence remains widespread
    • Stagnant maternal mortality rates since 2016 (increasing in some countries)
    • Nearly half of women lack control over their bodies

Marginalised Groups

  • Least improvement for most marginalised women
  • Women of African descent: higher obstetric mistreatment and negative maternal health outcomes
  • Indigenous women: denied culturally appropriate care, criminalisation of childbirth practices

Key Concerns

  • Discrimination & Stigma:
    • Racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination hinder sexual and reproductive health access
    • Women with disabilities face 10x more gender-based violence and greater barriers to healthcare
    • LGBTQIA+ people face health disparities due to discrimination
  • Health & Social Challenges:
    • 30 years of progress bypassed most marginalised communities
    • India’s child marriage rate (2006-2023): 23%
    • Maternal deaths: India has 8% of global deaths but unequal distribution of risk

Conclusion & Way Forward

  • Eliminate inequalities in health systems and policies
  • Focus on most marginalised women and youth
  • Large young population presents an opportunity for economic growth
  • Continued efforts needed for improved health and social outcomes, especially for marginalised communities


  • Established in 1969
  • UN agency for improving reproductive and maternal health worldwide
  • Largest international source of assistance for population programs
  • Supports Sustainable Development Goals on health, education, and gender equality
  • Funded by voluntary contributions


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