The study titled ‘How Indians View Gender Roles in Families and Society’ was released by the Pew Research Center, a Washington DC-based non-profit. It is based on a survey of 29,999 Indian adults.

Findings of the Report

  • Wife should obey husband: As per the report, while 55% of Indians believed that men and women make equally good political leaders, 9 in 10 Indians agree with the notion that a wife must always obey her husband.
  • Responsibility of child care:About 62% of Indians said that both men and women should be responsible for child care, while 34% were convinced that child care should be handled primarily by women.
  • Responsibility of earning money:54% of people said that both men and women should be responsible for earning money, however 43% Believe that earning an income is mainly the obligation of men.
    • About 80% of Indians agreed with the idea that when there are few jobs, men should have more rights to a job than women.
    • About 55% of Indians believe that women and men make equally good political leaders.
  • Preference for sons: about 94% said it is very important for a family to have at least one son, the corresponding figure for daughters is 90%.

  • Right to inheritance:Indians valued both sons and daughters, about 64% said that sons and daughters should have equal rights to inheritance from parents.
  • Responsibility to care for ageing parents: 4 in 10 adults said that sons should have the primary responsibility to care for ageing parents, however only 2% said the same about daughters.
  • Sex selective abortion: around 40% of Indians said that sex selective abortion was acceptable in at least some circumstances, 42% found this practice is completely unacceptable.
  • Discrimination against women: 23% of Indian adults said that there was a lot of discrimination against women, however only 16% of women overall said that they had personally felt discriminated based on gender.


  • The report noted that prevalent gender norms are part of a wider phenomenon in Indian society where, for a variety of historical, social, religious and economic reasons, families tend to place higher value on sons rather than daughters.
  • The report juxtaposes the gender attitudes with actual behaviour by comparing indicators from the national family health survey data over two decades.
  • NFHS outcomes reveal a substantial decline in traditional rules between 1998-99 and 2005-06.
    • For instance the sex ratio at birth has been moving towards the greater equality over the time.
    • The promotion of men who believed husbands should have a greater say in the decision declined from 26% in 2005-06 to 21% in 10 15-16.
    • 31% of married women said their husbands mainly decided how to use the money earned by the wife in 1998-99, it went down to 17% in 2015-16.

The North-South dichotomy 

  • The North-South dichotomy breaks down when it comes to gender attitudes, Southern states especially Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh i’m not necessarily more galley Terrien then the Hindi belt in terms of gender attitude.
  • The equalising educational outcomes does not necessarily get reflected in beliefs about elect equality between men and women.
    • 80% of the college educated Indians support the view that wives must obey their husbands.


  • It has been revealed that support for patriarchal attitudes and women’s inclusion is mixed, strong in some directions and weak in others.
  • Increasing the ability of women to participate in the economy either as workers or entrepreneurs would create the material foundation for their economic independence and greater say.
  • It must be complemented by greater substantial presence of women in decision making roles in both government as well as private sectors.