McKinsey Global Institute has released a new report, The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in India, with data showing poor levels of gender parity in Indian society. India’s global Gender Parity Score or GPS is 0.48, where a score of 1 would be ideal. India’s score represents an “extremely high” level of gender inequality, which compares poorly with 0.71 for Western Europe and 0.74 for North America and Oceania.
The flip side to the abysmal ranking, the report suggests, is that a focus on improving gender parity can help India reap rich rewards of economic growth. “India could boost its GDP by $ 0.7 trillion in 2025, the largest relative boost of all 10 regions analysed by MGI. This translates into 1.4 per cent per year of incremental GDP growth for India,” it says.
According to the report, about 70 per cent of the GDP increase can happen by raising India’s female labour force participation rate by 10 percentage points, from 31 per cent now to 41 per cent in 2025. That would mean jobs for 68 million women over the next 10 years.
But the economic gains are contingent upon the removal of the gender inequality in Indian society, says the report. The chart above shows how far India lags behind China and Western Europe, two representative areas, across various sub-indicators of the GPS. In the “political voice” and “physical security” metrics, India’s standing is in the “dangerously low” category.
The report has also developed, for the first time, a state-level Female Empowerment Index, or Femdex, for India. Femdex is based on a sub-set of 10 of the 15 indicators used in GPS, for which data are available at the state level. The results show wide geographical variation across India. The bottom five states on gender parity — Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh — have an average Femdex of 0.46, which is close to the GPS of Chad and Yemen. But at 0.67, even the average Femdex of the five best states in India in terms of gender parity — Mizoram, Kerala, Meghalaya, Goa, and Sikkim — is comparable with the GPS for only China and Indonesia. Clearly, India has a long way to go before it can catch up with developed world standards.
So how can things be improved? The key takeaway from the analysis is that there are no countries in the world with high gender equality in society but low gender equality in work. In other words, the two go hand-in-hand. Even Indian states, when mapped over these two variables, show strong linkage between gender equality in society and at work. Clearly, India must ensure that issues like the lack of female education and financial inclusion, and health and protection from violence, etc. are addressed.
HOW PARITY HELPS
Key projections for the economic case*
$ 2.9 trillion: Additional annual GDP in 2025 could be added by fully bridging the gender gap at the workplace. This is 60% higher than the business-as-usual GDP in 2025.
$ 0.7 trillion: Could be added in 2025 by matching the best-in-region country in progress toward gender parity at work, an increase of 16% over the business-as-usual GDP in 2025.
68 million: More Indian women can be brought into the workforce by 2025, 70% from the top nine states.
* Projections based on linking economic potential to 15 outcome-based indicators in 4 categories: equality at work, essential services and enablers of economic opportunity, legal protection and political voice, and physical security and autonomy