New Delhi: Despite government policies and economic revisions, India has stumbled four places on the World Economic Forum (WEF) gender gap index, down to 112th rank in 2019 as the disparity in terms of women’s health and economic participation continues to widen.
The country that boasts of its diversity has failed to be inclusive of all genders as it moved down from 108th position last year, far below neighbouring China (106th), Sri Lanka (102nd), Nepal (101st), Brazil (92nd), Indonesia (85th) and Bangladesh (50th). Meanwhile, Iceland maintained its position as the most gender neutral country.
At the same time, Yemen has secured the lowest rank at 153rd position, preceded by Iraq at 152nd and Pakistan 151st.
In its report, the WEF predicted that it would take at least 99.5 years to narrow down the gender gap, despite women now taking high-profile leadership roles. However, it also flagged abnormally low sex ratios at birth in India at 91 girls for every 100 boys.
“While an improvement on 2018 – when the gap was calculated to take 108 years to close – it still means parity between men and women across health, education, work and politics will take more than a lifetime to achieve,” the Geneva-based forum mentioned.
India had once sought a relatively higher rank at 98th place in 2006. However, since then, the country’s position has only worsened on three to four metrics for the overall ranking.
The nation has witnessed political empowerment up at 18th position, while it has dropped its rank in terms of health and survival (150th), economic participation and opportunity (149th), and 112th place for educational attainment.
This made India the only one among 153 countries where the economic gender gap is wider than the political one. It has been studied that only one-quarter of women, compared with 82 per cent of men, engage actively in the labour market in India – one of the lowest rates globally (145th).
The female estimated earned an income is mere one-fifth of the male income, again among the world’s lowest (144th), and women account for only 14 per cent of all leadership roles (136th) and 30 per cent of professional and technical workers.
“Violence, forced marriage and discrimination in access to health remain pervasive. The situation and the trend are more positive in terms of gender gaps in education… But a large difference persists for literacy rate; only two-thirds of women are literate compared with 82 per cent of men,” WEF stated.
The report, as a result, also highlights that given the present scenario, workplace inequality in the country will not be erased until the year 2276. However. the WEF said it was committed to at least double the current percentage of women participants at the Davos summit by 2030.