India slips 28 places in global gender gap index

India has slipped 28 places to rank 140 among 156 countries in World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, becoming the third worst performer in South Asia. According to the report, India has closed 62.5% of its gender gap to date. It had ranked 112 among153 countries in the 2020 index.

Noting that decline also took place in the economic participation and opportunity sub-index, albeit to a less extent, the report said India’s gender gap on this dimension widened by 3% this year, leading to a 32.6% gap closed till date.

Most of the decline occurred on the political empowerment sub-index, where India regressed 13.5 percentage points, with a significant decline in the number of women ministers (from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021). “Among the drivers of this decline is a decrease in women’s labour force participation rate, which fell from 24.8% to 22.3%. In addition, the share of women in professional and technical roles declined to 29.2%. The share of women in senior and managerial positions also remains low: only 14.6% of these positions are held by women and there are only 8.9% firms with female top managers,” the report said.

The estimated earned income of women in India is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts the country among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator.

Discrimination against women is also reflected in the health and survival sub-index statistics. With 93.7% of this gap closed to date, India ranks among the bottom five countries in this sub-index.

Wide gaps in sex ratio at birth are due to the high incidence of gender-based sex selective practices. In addition, more than one in four women have faced intimate violence in their lifetime, the report said. “Conversely, 96.2% of the educational attainment sub-index gender gap has been closed... Yet, gender gaps persist in terms of literacy: one third of women are illiterate (34.2%) compared to17.6% of men.”

Among India’s neighbours, Bangladesh ranked 65, Nepal 106, Pakistan 153, Afghanistan 156, Bhutan 130 and Sri Lanka 116. Among regions, South Asia is the second lowest performer on the index, with 62.3% of its overall gender gap closed.

The report said India, home to 650 million women, has widened its gender gap from almost 66.8% a year ago to 62.5% this year. 

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