India’s gender gap widens

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India ranked at 114 among 142 countries in World Economic Forum’s gender gap index

imageIndia has performed well on the parameter of political empowerment of women (Photo: Sayantan Bera)
The latest Global Gender Gap report released on Tuesday by the World Economic Forum (WEF)  a Geneva-based non-profit, has placed India at 114th rank, 13 points below last year’s ranking and the lowest among BRICS countries. It is also one of the few countries where female labour force participation is shrinking.
Among the BRICS countries, the highest-placed nation is South Africa (18), supported by strong scores on political participation, followed by Brazil  at 71,  Russia (75), China (87) and India (114).
The report, the ninth in the series, captures gender-based disparities of 142 countries on economic, social, political, education and health-based criteria.  
The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them, says WEF. Based on the nine years of data available for the 111 countries that have been part of the report since its inception, the world has seen only a small improvement in equality for women in the workplace.

Asia and the Pacific

China’s (87) overall score improved compared to 2006 due to improvements on all four sub-indexes, especially the Political Empowerment sub-index. This year, China is one of nine countries that ranked below average on the Health and Survival sub-index.
Japan’s (104) overall score improved compared to 2006 due to improvements on the Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index. However, it fell in the rankings on the other three sub-indexes, especially the Political Empowerment sub-index.
India (114) experienced a drop (in absolute and relative value) on the Health and Survival sub-index compared to 2006, mainly due to a decrease in the female-to-male sex ratio at birth. In 2014, India also performed below average on the Economic Participation and Opportunity and Educational Attainment sub-indexes.

Europe and Central Asia

Iceland (1) ranked fourth overall in 2006. It climbed to the top of the rankings within four years, remaining in that position for six consecutive years. This year, Iceland ranked first overall on the Political Empowerment sub-index.

Germany (12) performed well on the Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, and Political Empowerment sub-indexes. Under the latter sub-index, Germany is the fifth country with the highest improvement of “years with female head of state” (female-over-male ratio) over the past nine years.

France (16) entered the top 20 for the first time. It also came in third overall with the highest percentage change relative to its score in 2006. France is the country with the highest improvement on the “legislators, senior officials and managers” indicator over the past nine years. The country ranked low on the “wage equality for similar work” indicator.

Gender Gap by Pillar

In 2006, 56% of the economic participation gap had been closed; in 2014, 60% of this gap has been closed. In 2006, almost 92% of the educational attainment gap had been closed; in 2014, 94% of this gap has been closed. On health and survival, however, there has been a small deterioration between 2006 and 2014, from 97% to 96%. In 2006, 14% of the global political empowerment gap had been closed; in 2014, 21% of this gap has been closed.

Source: World Economic Forum
The report has placed India higher (rank 15) than the US (54) and the UK (33) on the parameter of political empowerment. WEF says this is because India has many women leaders in politics.
Iceland has topped the list of nations with least gender disparity for the sixth year running while Yemen remained last. One of the reasons for Iceland’s success is its relatively small population while Yemen struggles due to high mortality rates and high rates of girls aged six to 14 not in school, says the report.
Just six nations—Sri Lanka, Mali, Croatia, Macedonia, Jordan and Tunisia—have seen their gender gap grow overall since 2005, says WEF.
Last year’s leading four nations – Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4) – are joined by Denmark, which has climbed from eighth place to fifth. Nordic nations dominate the Global Gender Gap Index in 2014; Nicaragua, Rwanda and the Philippines have also made it to the top 10.
“Much of the progress on gender equality over the last 10 years has come from more women entering politics and the workforce. While more women and more men have joined the workforce over the last decade, more women than men entered the labour force in 49 countries. And in the case of politics, globally, there are now 26 per cent more female parliamentarians and 50 per cent more female ministers than nine years ago,” says Saadia Zahidi, head of the Gender Parity Programme at WEF and lead author of the report.
“These are far-reaching changes – for economies and national cultures, however it is clear that much work still remains to be done, and that the pace of change must in some areas be accelerated,” Zahidi adds.
Countries from Europe and Central Asia occupy 12 of the top 20 positions in the index, one less than last year. Of the region’s major economies, Germany has climbed two places to 12th position, France has leapt from 45th to 16th, while the UK has fallen eight places to 26th. France’s gain is mostly due to increases in the number of women in politics, including 49 per cent women ministers – one of the highest ratios in the world, and narrowing wage gaps. The UK’s lower position can be mainly attributed to changes in income estimates, according to the report
While, in Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines remains the region’s highest-ranked country, followed by New Zealand (13) and Australia (24).
Mind the gap
The WEF report says that gender gap is the narrowest in terms of health and survival with the gap standing at 96 per cent globally
The educational attainment gap is the next narrowest, standing at 94 per cent globally
The gap for political empowerment remains wider still, standing at 21 per cent, although this area has seen the most improvement since 2006
The gender gap for economic participation and opportunity now stands at 60 per cent worldwide, having closed by 4 per cent from 56 per cent in 2006
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