How do young people in India feel about their country’s changing gender dynamics?

We looked at the evolving role of women in a recent survey of 25,000 Indians aged 15 to 25, spanning over 400 towns and more than 100 campuses. (Note: this project was completed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.) This research revealed that Indian young women feel more validated than ever, freer to make their own life choices with the assurance that their parents will always have their back. Young men also have increasingly egalitarian views of relationships. In all, young women in India think their opinions are more valued than ever.

Here are some key findings:

Young Indians feel their generation is less sexist than previous generations. Teens and young adults in India (83%) believe that their generation discriminates on gender less than previous generations, with little gender difference in this sentiment.

In relationships, a growing majority think the same rules should apply to both genders. Virtually all young Indians (94%) think the same should rules apply to males and females in a relationship – up from 80% in 2016. Most feel it’s okay for both genders to ask someone out or propose marriage (71%), pay for dates (73%), and apologize first (75%).

However, if someone in a relationship must earn more than the other, they think it should be the male. When asked if the man or woman in a relationship should earn more (and forced to choose one or the other), 65% of young Indians believe it should be the man.

Over half of Indian young women are comfortable with sex before marriage. While many young women are fine with sex before marriage (54%), they are notably less comfortable with this than some of the measures of relationship equality mentioned earlier.

Daughters feel their parents are evolving. Indian young women increasingly think their parents’ outlooks are modern (53%, up from 38% in 2016). Interestingly, males are less likely to feel their parents’ outlooks are modern (36%, down from 42% in 2016). The percentage of young women who believe their parents would support their choice of career has also grown (84%, up from 67% in 2016).

Indian young women have more of a say in major household purchases. Nearly three-quarters of Indian young women (73%) say they have a major influence in the purchase of appliances, insurance, and automobiles – significantly higher than their male counterparts (53%). When it comes to types of purchases, they are most likely to collaborate with their parents or be the sole decision-makers for purchases of cars/bikes, mobile phones, mobile service providers, family vacations, and online shopping for groceries and essentials.