India has had a patriarchal structure of society for many generations. Inequality and gender bias have prevented women from availing opportunities that have been easily offered to their male counterparts. According to a report by the World Bank, prevention of educational opportunities for girls cost nations between USD 15 trillion and 30 trillion.According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the literacy rate of women in India is 70.3 per cent, whereas that of men is 84.7 per cent. This gap is representative of the disparity with regard to education of women in India. There are so many ways in which an entire nation is affected by not offering equal opportunities to the women in the country. Let us see what is the importance of womens education in India and its current status in the country.Importance of Womens EducationEducating the women in a country is directly proportional to the economic development of the country. When women are educated, they can manage their finances as well as households better. There are several reasons why female education in India is important.Here are some of them:Fundamental RightsEducation is a fundamental right for every citizen of the country. All girls and women, irrespective of caste, social strata, marital status or age, are entitled to an education. Education is a basic human right, not a privilege based on status.EqualityEducation of women enables equality in a society. Sending a boy to school and not his sister instils biases very early on in life. The feelings of superiority that many boys and men nurture are often caused by these inequalities at this early age.Empowerment and IndependenceWomen can feel confident and empowered only if they are educated. They can learn skills to be able to earn their own living. This makes them independent and more capable of taking care of themselves, without relying on a man.History of Womens Education in IndiaIn the past, men were meant to go out of the house to work, while the women were supposed to stay at home to look after the house, children, and food requirements. This system has been so entrenched in Indian society that it requires a huge change in mindset to bring about any real change to the education status of women in India.After Indias Independence in 1947, the options for higher education for women were made available with the Right to Education. The constitution framed Article 45 in 1949, which makes it compulsory for children up to the age of fourteen to receive an education.Factors Affecting Female Literacy RateThe female literacy rate in India is gradually increasing every year. This is reflective of two things one is the steady albeit slow change in the mindset of people, especially parents of girls, who are now sending their daughters for primary-level education. The second is the availability of options in schools, universities and institutions for primary and further education for girls and women.Some of the factors that have been affecting the low literacy rate of women in India over the years are discussed below:SocialDiscriminationIndian society is patriarchal in nature. This takes away from women the basic right to have a voice in their families or society. And this factor has prevailed as a norm over the years, leading to the overall literacy rate to stay low.Gender InequalityBoys are sent to school, whereas girl children are made to stay at home. Moreover, schools in rural areas lack adequate sanitation facilities, so girls are forced to stay at home.Involvement of Girls in Domestic WorkGirls get involved in unpaid domestic labour as it is easy to keep them home for household chores. This affects their chances of education from an early age.Cost for the FamilyUnderprivileged families often cannot afford to pay for the education of all their children. It is usually the older of male offspring who earn the privilege.Education Status of Women in IndiaIn India, the female literacy rate is 70.3 per cent. This is a stark difference from the 84.7 per cent male population that is educated. However, this percentage is different in different states of the country due to cultural and social differences that exist in each.Kerala tops the female literacy rate of 95.2 per cent. Rajasthan has the lowest female literacy rate of 57.6 per cent.Benefits of Womens EducationThe benefits of womens education are many. Educating girls and women is crucial for the enhancement of both the society and the entire nation. Let us look at some of these:Mental and Physical Well-beingAn educated woman is more capable of looking after her physical and mental health, and thus better able to look after her family. She can also excel in her professional life, given the opportunity to.Family PlanningEducating women goes hand in hand with increasing the age of marriage and child-bearing. With proper education, women can do family planning and thereby assist in population control.Social and Economic DevelopmentA society or nation that empowers its women and treats them as equal will benefit from the development of their skill sets in various fields. Women can excel in myriad fields, given the opportunity. This, in turn, will help in the economic growth of the nation.Non-Profit Organisations Promoting Womens EducationMany organisations work hard towards emphasising the need for womens education. Some of the leading ones are as follows:Educate Girls Development Impact Bond (DIB): The DIB was a three-year fund that aimed at educating girls from marginalised families. This was a campaign run in the state of Rajasthan, India.Global Grassroots:This organisation focuses on conscious social change within communities, and girls and women as leaders of this change.Pratham:Pratham is an organisation that was set up to provide education to slum-dwelling children of Mumbai. It is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India.Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED): CAMFED is an Africa-based organisation that strives to educate underprivileged girl students.Girls Who Code:A New York-based not-for-profit organisation, Girls Who Code, seeks to provide computing skills to women and girls, to better meet the needs of the 21st century employment market.Welfare Schemes for Womens EducationThe Indian government has launched several welfare schemes to empower women and improve the status of womens education in India. Some of these schemes are:Beti Bachao Beti PadhaoThis is a campaign by the Government of India aimed at the empowerment of women in the country. It focuses on some of the northern states of India, and looks deeply at the declining child sex ratio of the nation.Working Women HostelThis is a scheme that aims to provide safe accommodation for working women so they do not lose out on employment opportunities due to lack of such facilities.Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP)Available to women above the age of 16, this scheme offers skills and competence training to promising entrepreneurs.Mahile-e-HaatThis is an online initiative that seeks to offer a platform for female entrepreneurs to showcase their brands. It was established by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.ConclusionThe education status of women in India continues to suffer due to the deep-rooted social and economic conditioning of the society. Due to gender-based biases, girls and women are bound to domestic roles rather than being allowed to venture out into professional fields. This makes it even more imperative that womens empowerment gets taken up more emphatically as a cause, and changes the mentality and belief system that prevails over most societies in the country.Today, women in India are taking up more challenging roles, with respect to their careers. Opportunities for them are opening up and options of education and employment are being made available. A greater and faster-paced change can come about if this change spreads to the remotest areas and most underprivileged sections of the society.FAQsWhat is the female literacy rate in India?According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) report from July 2017 till June 2018, the female literacy rate in India is 70.3 per cent.Who started womens education in India?Social reformer Jyotirao Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule started womens education in India.Why is womens education in India so important?Womens education in India can bring down the infant mortality rate, promote education of girls, offer better employment opportunities to women, and serve to uplift the social and economic status of the nation.