April 1, 2021 2:42:46 am
India has fallen 28 places in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, and is now one of the worst performers in South Asia, trailing behind neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar -— it is now ranked 140 among 156 countries.
South Asia incidentally is one of the worst performing regions, followed only by the Middle East and northern Africa, according to the report released on Wednesday by the World Economic Forum.
The report points out that many countries have fared worse in this year’s rankings compared to last year’s, on account of economic performance. “Globally, the average distance completed to parity is at 68 per cent, a step back compared to 2020 (-0.6 percentage points). These figures are mainly driven by a decline in the performance of large countries. On its current trajectory, it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide,” it states.
The gender gap in political empowerment remains the largest: women represent only 26.1 per cent of some 35,500 parliament seats and just 22.6 per cent of over 3,400 ministers worldwide, according to the report. In 81 countries, there has never been a woman head of state, as of January 15, 2021.
While India has declined on the political empowerment index as well by 13.5 percentage points, and a decline in the number of women ministers, from 23.1 per cent in 2019 to 9.1 per cent in 2021, it has still performed relatively well compared to other countries, ranking at 51 in women’s participation in politics. Bangladesh is “the only country where more women have held head-of-state positions than men in the past 50 years,” says the report.
In the index of education attainment, India has been ranked at 114.
But the two indices where India has fared the worst are “Health and Survival”, which includes the sex ratio, and economic participation of women.
The second-largest gender gap among the four components of the index is for the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex. “Only 58.3 per cent of this gap has been closed so far (globally),” it states.
The countries with the largest gender gaps in economic participation include Iran, India, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The report notes that the economic participation gender gap actually widened in India by 3 percent this year. The share of women in professional and technical roles declined further to 29.2 per cent. The share of women in senior and managerial positions also is at 14.6 per cent and only 8.9 per cent firms in the country have top female managers.
The estimated earned income of women in India is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts the country among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator, it said.
But it is in the Health and Survival index that India has fared the worst, ranking at 155 — the only country to have fared worse is China. The report points to a skewed sex ratio as a major factor.
The report estimates that it will take South Asia 195.4 years to close the gender gap, while Western Europe will take 52.1 years.
While ranking India at 155 — a spot ahead of China — on the health and survival index, the report points to a skewed sex ratio as the major factor. It says the ratio can be attributed to norms of son preference and gender-biased prenatal sex-selective practices. China and India together account for about 90 to 95 per cent of the estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million missing female births annually worldwide due to gender-biased prenatal sex selective practices, it states.
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