• Yatharth Soni

India slips four ranks on World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020- Way Forward

In the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index 2020, which comprised 153 economies, India has slipped from 108th place in 2018 to 112th place.

According to the report published on Tuesday, it will take almost 100 years to close the gender gap in politics, business, health and education.

"The country (India) has closed two thirds of its total gender gap (66.8%). However, the condition of women is precarious in large parts of Indian society. The country has lost four places since the last edition, despite a small improvement in the score, as some countries rated lower than India have improved more," the report says.

"The economic gap between the sexes is particularly wide in India. Only one third of the gap was bridged (35.4%, 149th place, 7 places less). Since 2006, the gap has widened significantly. Of the 153 countries surveyed, India is the only country where the economic gender gap is greater than the political one," she added.

India ranks 18th in terms of political empowerment and 4th in terms of the number of years a woman or man has ruled a state. It ranks 149th in terms of economic participation and economic opportunity and 117th in terms of equal pay for comparable work. The country ranked 112th in terms of educational attainment and 150th in terms of health and survival.

"The wide gender gap in India is due to religious and historical social ties. Compared to other countries, this process is much slower due to the attitudes prevailing in Indian social culture.

"Over the last 50 years, the country has been run by a woman for 20 years (4.), which largely explains this strong performance. But today the political representation of women is low: women make up only 14.4% of the parliament (122nd place) and 23% of the cabinet (69th place)", the report says.

According to the report, the Nordic countries continue to lead the way towards gender parity. Iceland (87.7%) remains the country with the highest gender balance in the world, followed by Norway (2nd place, 84.2%), Finland (3rd place, 83.2%) and Sweden (4th place, 82.0%). Other economies in the top 10 are Nicaragua (5th place, 80.4%), New Zealand (6th place, 79.9%), Ireland (7th place, 79.8%), Spain (8th place, 79.5%), Rwanda (9th place, 79.1%) and Germany (10th place, 78.7%).

“To get to parity in the next decade instead of the next two centuries, we will need to mobilize resources, focus leadership attention and commit to targets across the public and private sectors. Business-as-usual will not close the gender gap – we must take action to achieve the virtuous cycle that parity creates in economies and societies," said Saadia Zahidi, Director of the Centre for New Economy and Society and Member of the Board of the World Economic Forum.

Our approach to gender parity will have to change to speed up the process. We need better and adequate education for girls and boys, and for men and women, to bring about changes in attitudes," said V. P. Gupta of the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), a Community-based research organisation working on gender equality and the rights of workers in the unorganised sector.

What is the Global Gender Gap Index?

The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 compares 153 countries in terms of their progress towards gender parity in 4 dimensions,

  • Economic participation and opportunities,

  • educational level,

  • health and survival, and

  • Political empowerment.

In addition, this year's report examines the perspectives of the gender gap in the occupations of the future.

Where is the need for evaluation?

Assessing women's access to equal opportunities and resources compared to men's access would be a scientific method of assessing a nation's commitment to empowering its citizens.

However, based on the Global Gender Gap Index 2020, it is easy to question whether this government is doing the right thing by the country's women.

In particular, it measures the gender gap in access to resources and opportunities in countries rather than the actual amount of resources and opportunities available.

What does the index say?

India has fallen by four points since 2018 and now ranks 112th on the Index.

Despite a small improvement in the score, India has lost four positions because some countries rated lower than India have performed better.

The country reportedly closed 2/3 of its total gender gap with a score of 66.8%.

The report notes with concern, however, that the situation of women in the large fringe areas of Indian society is "precarious".

What do the sub-indices say?

The economic gap between the sexes is particularly worrying, with a score of 35.4%, putting it in 149th place and 7 places lower than in the previous edition.

This shows that only one third of the gap has been bridged.

Women's participation in the labour market is also among the lowest in the world and the estimated income of women in employment is only 1/5 of that of men.

An alarming statistic is that India is ranked 150th at the bottom of the health and survival subindex.

It is largely determined by the distorted gender ratio in birth, violence, forced marriage and discrimination in access to health.

On the fronts of educational level (rank 112) and political empowerment (rank 18), the relatively good news is buried.

What could be done?

The Gender Gap Index offers India the opportunity to make the necessary corrections without delay.

It will not be enough to do what the government is currently doing.

The government needs to pay close attention to all aspects indicated by the index in order to improve its performance.

It should set targets to reduce the gender gap in the foreseeable future.

It will have to drastically increase the efforts it has introduced to promote women's participation and increase opportunities for women.

To this end, it must also ensure that effective implementation takes place on the ground.

The commitment to improve conditions for women is a non-negotiable obligation of every state.

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