Recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2017 has ranked India in the 108th, indicating a plunge of 21 slots from 87th last year. This ranking is even 10 notches lower than in 2006 when the WEF started measuring the gender gap, The Hindu reports.
India’s current position is primarily owing to less participation of women in the economy and low wages. According to the report, while India has closed 67 percent of its gender gap, this figure is less than many of its international peers, with some of Asia neighbours such as Bangladesh ranked 47th and China at 100th.
Globally, this year’s report marked a drab progress in gender gap. For the first time since WEF began measuring the gap across four pillars (health, education, workplace and political representation), the global gap has actually widened. Released on Thursday (Nov 2), the report suggested that an overall 68 percent of the global gender gap has been closed.
This number is a slight decline from 68.3 percent in 2016. Looking at current rate of progress, the global gender gap will take 100 years to bridge, compared to 83 last year. This case is even worse when it comes to workplace gender divide, which is estimated to take 217 years to close. On a positive note, some countries are doing better than the bleak global trend, as more than half of 144 countries were improving their score in the past 12 months.
On top of the Global Gender Gap Index is Iceland, which has closed nearly 88 percent of its gap. Iceland has remained its position as the world’s most gender-equal country for nine years. Others in the top 10 are as follow, Norway, Finland, Rwanda, Sweden, Nicaragua, Slovenia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Meanwhile, India’s greatest challenges lie in the economic participation and opportunity pillar. The report noted that India’s declining position is attributed to a widening of its gender gaps in political empowerment as well as healthy life expectancy and basic literacy.
“With more than 50 years having passed since the inauguration of the nation’s first female prime minister in 1966, 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,” the report said.
Additionally, the scale of India’s gender gap in women’s share among legislators, senior officials and managers, as well as professional and technical workers also suggested that there needs to be continued efforts done to achieve parity in economic opportunity and participation.
Workplace gender gap in India is mainly due to extremely low participation of women in the economy (it ranks 136 of 144 countries) and low wages for those who join the workforce (it ranks 136 for estimated earned income). WEF added that on average, 66 percent women’s work in India is unpaid, showing a major gap when compared to 12 percent of men’s.
However, on a positive note, India has succeeded in fully closing its primary and secondary education enrolment gender gaps for the second year running, and for the first time has nearly closed its tertiary education gender gap. Meanwhile, it continues to rank fourth-lowest in the world on gender health and survival, which makes it the world’s least-improved country on this sub-index over the past decade.
Regarding to this matter, Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum (WEF) said, “Competitiveness on a national and on a business level will be decided more than ever before by the innovative capacity of a country or a company. Those will succeed best who understand to integrate women as an important force into their talent pool”.