India slips 21 slots in Gender Gap index 2017

India fell 21 places on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index to 108 – far below the global average and much behind its neighbours China and Bangladesh. According to the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2017, India has closed 67% of its gender gap, less than many of its international peers, and some of its neighbours like Bangladesh ranked 47th while China was placed at 100th.

According to the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2017, on an average 66% of women’s work in India is unpaid, compared to 12% of men’s. In case of China, 44% of women’s work is unpaid, while for men the figure stood at 19%. Even for developed countries, like the United Kingdom, which was ranked 15th on the Global Gender Gap list, 56.7% of women’s work is unpaid, as against 32% men’s. In the USA also, 50% of women’s work is unpaid while in case of men the figure stands at 31.5%. Unpaid work measures the average minutes spent per day on routine housework, shopping, care for household members, care for non-household members volunteering, travel related to household activities and other unpaid activities for men and women aged 15-64 years.

While much of this imbalance is explained by the discrepancy in caregiving and unpaid work, institutional and policy inertia, outdated organisational structures and discrimination, one additional explanatory factor is the skills differentials in the types of degrees women and men seek out in their education.

India’s greatest challenges lie in the economic participation and opportunity pillar where the country is ranked 139 as well as health and survival pillar where the country is ranked 141.

In 2016, India’s rank was 87. In 2006, when the World Economic Forum started measuring gender gap across the world, India’s rank was 10 notches higher than it is in 2017.

The report said gender gaps in political empowerment, life expectancy and basic literacy also caused India’s rank to slip. It has been more than 50 years since India’s first woman prime minister came to power, it said. “Maintaining its global top 20 ranking on the political empowerment sub-index will require India to make progress on this dimension with a new generation of female political leadership.”

Globally also for the first time since the WEF began measuring the global gap, it has actually widened. A decade of slow but steady progress on improving parity between the sexes came to a halt in 2017, with the global gender gap widening for the first time since the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006.

The findings in this year’s report showed that an overall 68% of the global gender gap has been closed. This is a slight deterioration from 2016 when the gap closed was 68.3%. At the current rate of progress, the global gender gap will take 100 years to bridge, compared to 83 last year. The case is worse in terms of workplace gender divide, which the report estimates will take 217 years to close.

Gender Gap Index

The gender gap is the difference between women and men in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments. The Global Gender Gap Report ranks 144 countries on the progress they have made towards gender parity in four areas – health, education, economics and politics and is published annually by World Economic Forum.

The report measures women’s disadvantage compared to men and is not strictly a measure of equality. Gender imbalances to the advantage of women do not affect the score.

The report examines four overall areas of inequality between men and women in 144 economies around the globe:

  • Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
  • Educational attainment – outcomes of access to basic and higher level education
  • Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
  • Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio. In this case, parity is not assumed, there are assumed to be less female births than male (944 female for every 1,000 males), and men are assumed to die younger. Provided that women live at least six percent longer than men parity is assumed if it is less than six percent it counts as a gender gap.

Thirteen out of the fourteen variables used to create the index are from publicly available “hard data” indicators from international organizations, such as the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organization.

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