India slips 28 places to 140 amongst 156 countries in WEF Global Gender Gap index

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 31, 2021

Women’s estimated earned income is only one-fifth of men’s, putting India among the bottom 10 globally, says WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2021

India’s ranking on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2021 dropped 28 places to 140, amongst 156 nations, making it the third-worst performer in South Asia, way behind Bangladesh and Nepal.

The Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps among four key dimensions – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment – and tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time.

Iceland continued to top the index in 2021, followed by Finland and Norway, while Afghanistan was at the last position of 156.

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised new barriers to building inclusive and prosperous economies and societies, the WEF Global Gender Gap report pointed out. “Pre-existing gender gaps have amplified the crisis asymmetrically between men and women, even as women have been at the frontlines of managing the crisis as essential workers,” the report said.

In South Asia, Bangladesh was the top performer on the gender gap index with a global ranking of 65, followed by Nepal at 106, Sri Lanka at 116, and Bhutan at 130. Apart from Afghanistan, Pakistan was the only country behind India on the index with a global ranking of 153.

“The (gender) gap is 4.2 percentage points larger than recorded in the previous edition, which explains why India has fallen 28 places in the ranking. Most of the decline has occurred on the Political Empowerment subindex, where India has regressed 13.5 percentage points to reach a level of gap closed to date of just 27.6 per cent,” the report said.

Decline also took place on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, with gender gap widening by 3 per cent this year. The drivers of the decline are a decrease in women’s labour force

“Further, women’s estimated earned income is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts India among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator,” the report said.

Discrimination against women is also reflected in Health and Survival subindex statistics.

India ranks among the bottom five countries in this subindex with 93.7 per cent of this gap closed to date, per the report. Wide sex ratio at birth gaps are due to high incidence of gender based sex-selective practices, it said. In addition, more than one in four women has faced intimate violence in her lifetime.

On the positive front, 96.2 per cent of the Educational Attainment subindex gender gap has been closed, with parity achieved in primary, secondary and tertiary education. “Yet, gender gaps persist in terms of literacy: one third of women are illiterate (34.2 per cent) compared to 17.6 per cent of men,” the report said.

Published on March 31, 2021

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