India's Gender Deficit

India Apr 13, 2021

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2021 was released last week. The report addresses a silent crisis of gender deficit, India has slipped 28 places to 140th position among 156 countries on the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index. The Country is now 37.5% short of an ideal situation of equality by its index. Back in 2006, India was short of 40%, progress was made over the past 15 years but it also was highly uneven. Gains were made on the educational and political empowerment of women.

India was the third-worst performer in South Asia, when it comes to our neighbouring countries Bangladesh ranked at 65 ka Nepal at 106 the only two countries who did worse than us were Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Factors to consider.

Though the pandemic has been responsible for a decline to a significant extent many of our deficiencies are pre-Covid. Some of the drop in India's international rank over the past two years has to do with the regulation in the field of political power. For the past decade and a half economic opportunities and participation. Indian workforce has been turning more predominantly male, senior managerial positions in the corporate sector have not seen sufficient female appointees. At an aggregate level, our income disparity is glaring with women only earning a fifth of what a man earns, which puts India among the world’s worst 10 on these indicators. We fare worst on women’s health and survival with India beaten to the last rank only by China.

Why are there proportionally less women in the workforce?

One prominent explanation is the socio-cultural attitudes of being against women going out to work unless the family lacks sustenance. Another is that families prefer educated mothers to invest time in teaching their kids. Both these motives are said to be influenced by upward income mobility and a quest for better lives. Yes, the covid setback to both families incomes and gender progress would suggest the reasons are mostly attitudinal.

Way forward

If the reasons are attitudinal tax intensive then other schemes are unlikely to get women taking up more jobs. What we need are new forms of social persuasion which must go with credible assurances of gender equality in every sphere.

A country’s economic progress is inextricably linked to an empowered woman, so India needs to act on its silent crisis of gender deficit so that it can move up the economy.

This article has been written by Siddhesh Patil for The Paradigm.

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