The Divide: Socio-Economic Boundaries
Between Rural & Urban Women

The lives of women unfold differently depending on where they reside in India. It is no secret that the women who reside in the rural regions of India aren’t afforded the same privileges that their urban counterparts enjoy daily. This socio-economic disparity paints a grim picture of inequality that has been prevalent in India since independence.

This inequality dictates every facet of a woman’s life in India, from education to employment. Over the years, many efforts have been made to bridge this gap once and for all, with varying results. We believe that to truly address this issue; we need to first understand the extent of this socio-economic divide between women in rural and urban India.

That is exactly what we hope to accomplish with this article today. As a leading fundraising platform in India, here at Let It Count, we’ve worked closely with several organizations and foundations striving to empower the women in India, especially those living in its rural corners.

Rest assured, we know just how deep this divide truly is. So you can count on us to not only help you understand this issue better but also explore avenues that address it effectively.

Exploring the Socio-Economic Divide between Women in Rural and Urban India

1. The Education Divide

Education is a powerful tool of empowerment. Yet, the divide between rural and urban women when it comes to this fundament right is massive in the country. Compared to the 90s, India is in a better position today with regard to its female literacy rate. In a recent report, the urban literacy rate of women in the country was estimated to be 83%.

The rural literacy rate, on the other hand, was said to be 65 percent. Although we’ve made progress here, we cannot overlook that the literacy rate among urban women surpasses the literacy rate among rural women by 17%.

You can attribute this divide to several factors ranging from poor access to quality education to regressive socio-cultural norms still prevalent in rural India. Moreover, dropout rates among rural women are also expected to be very high due to financial constraints and early marriage.

In our opinion, the only effective way to bridge this divide is by launching targeted initiatives. A good example of one such initiative would be the “Educational Villages and Possibilities” project supported by Let It Count. Since its inception, the project has succeeded in offering quality education to over 400 students every year. This project has placed over 2000 students in MNCs, 50% of whom are girls.

More initiatives that focus on improving access to quality education, community outreach, and scholarships could significantly boost the literacy rate among rural women in India.

2. The Employment Paradox

A report analyzing the economic empowerment of rural and urban women in India found that 30.3% of rural women are engaged in economic activities, whereas only 15.44% of urban women are part of the country’s workforce. Before you conclude that rural India is doing better than its urban counterpart, we suggest taking a pause and diving deeper into this report.

While it is true that more rural women are employed than urban women, it is the type of employment that should be of real concern here. The job opportunities that urban women enjoy are far superior to the ones rural women get or don’t get at all.

Unlike urban women, most rural women find themselves doing challenging and physically intensive work in the agriculture or informal job market. They do not enjoy perks like healthcare, maternity leave, and job security. You have to understand that rural women also seek employment only out of necessity rather than pure ambition, which drives many urban women in the country today.

Rural women need better employment opportunities. This is only possible with better vocational training programs and initiatives like the “Girl Empowerment” project at Let It Count.

The foundation’s goal is to impart little girls from UP’s most downtrodden areas with the education, leadership, and decision-making skills necessary to become self-reliant and thrive in the future.

3. The Silent Epidemic of Violence and Abuse

The abuse women face in rural and even urban regions of India to this date is very well-documented. While abuse against women is typical across the board, rural women are disproportionately found to be more susceptible to abuse due to factors like societal stigma, lack of awareness, and poor access to support centers.

According to the National Library of Medicine, women in rural areas who’ve been victims of intimate partner violence were found to be 22.5% compared to 15.5% of urban women. It is also found that out of the 159 rape cases reported in India between 2019 and 2020, 111 of these cases came from rural areas while 48 belonged to urban regions.

Issues related to gender violence can be better addressed by setting up support networks in rural areas. Counseling services and legal aid centers are all elements that India needs today to effectively tackle the issue of gender-based violence in the country.

By casting a spotlight on initiatives that provide shelter homes for girls aged 6-18 years and self-defense classes to adolescent girls, Let it Count is doing its part in ensuring gender-based violence soon becomes a thing of the past in this country.

4. The Tradition of Child Marriage and Dowry

It will come as a surprise to some to know that the tradition of child marriage persists in many parts of the country today. The same is true for dowry despite strict legal prohibitions. According to the report published by the National Institute of Health, almost 36.8% of women in rural India are married off before the age of 18. This number is 28.9% in urban India.

Although the number is higher in rural regions, the fact that there are still child marriages happening in this country should concern any person with a conscience. Both dowry and child marriages are social evils that should have no place in modern India trying to compete on the global level.

We need more effective community outreach programs that challenge customers like dowry and child marriages in our society. Let it Count is striving to accomplish this by supporting a wide range of initiatives.

From programs focused on making legal aid accessible to initiatives designed to educate and empower women, Let It Count is committed to causes that aim to eliminate the perpetuation of such social evils.


If you wish to bridge the vast socio-economic divide between rural and urban women in India, we’d suggest looking beyond the statistics. It is our moral responsibility as citizens of this country to dismantle any barriers stopping a woman from realizing her full potential. All women, regardless of where they come from, should have equal opportunities in education and employment. By joining hands with us at Let it Count, you can be a force for change that women in the country need to empower themselves.