India ranks 95 out of 129 countries, below countries such as Ghana, Rwanda and Bhutan in a new gender equality index released on the second day of the ‘Women Deliver Conference’. Out of a maximum score of 100 based on the country’s performance on the gender parameter of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) India scored 56.2.
The index, covering 14 of the 17 SDGs, measures countries on 51 issues ranging from health, gender-based violence, climate change, decent work and others. The global average score of the 129 countries-which represents 95% of the world’s girls and women- is 65.7 out of 100 (“poor” in the index scoring system). No one country is the world’s best performer-or even among the world’s top ten performers-across all goals or all issues.
The overall index score and individual goal scores are based on a scale of 0-100. A score of 100 reflects the achievement of gender equality in relation to the targets set for each indicator. For example, that 100 per cent of girls’ complete secondary education or that there is around 50-50 parity for women and men in Parliament. A score of 50 signifies that a country is about halfway to meeting that goal. Scores of 59 or below have been rated “very poor”.
India, along with neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh, lost out on the education index even though the report noted that large strides had been made. “One of the sub-regions facing persistent challenges in gender equality in education is South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. In 2018, the number of primary and secondary school-age girls was 186.2 million in the three countries, representing 52 per cent of the girls in the entire Asia and the Pacific region,” the report noted. It also recorded the findings of the Annual Status of Education Report’s (ASER) assessment of basic math skills of 14- to 16-year-olds in India, that found 44 per cent of girls can do division compared to 50 per cent of boys, but rural girls are worse off than urban girls.
The gender index was created by Equal Measures 2030, a civil society and private sector partnership that includes the Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (Arrow), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Data2X, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), KPMG International, ONE Campaign, Plan International and Women Deliver.
Denmark tops the index, followed closely by Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. The countries with the lowest scores in the index — Niger, Yemen, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad – have all faced conflict and fragility in recent years.
“With just 11 years to go, our index finds that not a single one of the 129 countries is fully transforming their laws, policies or public budget decisions on the scale needed to reach gender equality by 2030. We are failing to deliver on the promises of gender equality for literally billions of girls and women,” said Alison Holder, Director of Equal Measures 2030.
(The author is in Vancouver as a Media Scholar for Women Deliver 2019)