Bridging the Gap: On India and Gender Gap Report

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    In Context

    • India has climbed eight places in the recent annual Gender Gap Report, 2023 and is ranked 127 out of 146 countries in terms of gender parity, from 135 last year.

    About Global Gender Gap Index 

    • The Global Gender Gap Index annually benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions 
      • Economic Participation and Opportunity, 
      • Educational Attainment,
      • Health and Survival, and 
      • Political Empowerment. 
    • It is the longest-standing index tracking the progress of numerous countries’ efforts toward closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.
    • The goal of the report is to offer a consistent annual metric for the assessment of progress over time.
    • The index and the analysis focus on benchmarking parity between women and men across countries and regions.

    2023 Report highlights on India’s position

    • India was ranked 127 out of 146 countries in terms of gender parity — an improvement of eight places from 2022.
    • Education:
      • The country had attained parity in enrolment across all levels of education.
    • Economic participation: 
      • India had closed 64.3% of the overall gender gap. However, it underlined that India had reached only 36.7 % parity on economic participation and opportunity.
        • In India, while there had been an uptick in parity in wages and income, the share of women in senior positions and technical roles had dropped slightly since the last edition.
    • Political empowerment:
      • On political empowerment, India has registered 25.3% parity, with women representing 15.1% of parliamentarians — the highest for the country since the inaugural report in 2006.
    • Health & survival:
      • For India, the 1.9 percentage point improvement in the sex ratio at birth had driven up parity after more than a decade of slow progress.

    Analysing Index for India 

    • Political participation:
      • India has fared well in education, and in political empowerment, with representation of women of over 40% in local governance.
      • But, as the report points out, women represent only 15.1% of parliamentarians, “the highest for India since the inaugural 2006 edition.” 
        • To understand where things stand on women’s participation in politics, consider this: Nagaland, which became a State in 1963, elected its first two women MLAs only in 2023.
    • Slow progress of health and survival:
      • Another concern is India’s performance in health and survival, though an improvement in sex ratio at birth has driven up parity after more than a decade of slow progress
    • Unpaid work:
      • It is imperative that girls get access to education through all levels of school and college; and they also need paid work. 
      • Women end up doing so much unpaid work at home that many do not have the time or energy to opt for paid work. 
    • Workforce Participation:
      • Not only has women’s participation in the labour market globally slipped in recent years, but other markers of economic opportunity have been showing substantive disparities between women and men.
      • Women remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce
    • Digital divide:
      • Women and men currently do not have equal opportunities and access to online platforms, given the persistent digital divide.
    • Impact of pandemic:
      • If the pandemic revealed the fragility of life, it was infinitely harder on women, with their labour participation rates dropping, thus reducing household incomes. 
      • Often, even if they get a job, women are constrained by patriarchal and cultural norms; besides, there are serious safety concerns. 

    Suggestions & way ahead

    • Need to improve in all the indicators:
      • India has a window of opportunity to improve in each of the four key markers of the index so that one-half of the most populous country in the world may contribute to the economy, growth and overall well being of society. 
    • Need of action on the Women’s Reservation Bill:
      • This should spur Parliament to take it to the next level by acting on the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill, which proposes to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women, and was first introduced in the House way back in 1996. 
    • Job-assured education:
      • Providing girls with a job-assured education will automatically improve all development indices including nutrition, and break the vicious cycle of early marriage leading to poor maternal and child health.
    • Collective action:
      • The pandemic may have stalled progress to achieve gender equality by 2030, but work towards bridging the gap must go on in earnest.
      • Collective, coordinated, and bold action by private- and public-sector leaders will be instrumental in accelerating progress toward gender parity and igniting renewed growth and greater resilience. 

     

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] What is the significance of India’s improving rank in the Gender Gap Report of 2023? Highlight the roadblocks for India in achieving gender equality by 2030.