India ranks 112th in terms of gender gap among 153 countries surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Gender Gap Report 2020 published on Tuesday.
While Iceland remains the world’s most gender-neutral country, India has moved down the ladder from its 108th position last year amid widening disparity in terms of women’s health and survival and economic participation. The WEF published its first gender gap report in 2006 when India was ranked at 98th place.
“None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. That is the sobering finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 which reveals that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years,” the WEF said.
Gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive. Developing and deploying one-half of the world’s available talent has a huge bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide.
“The index’s rankings offer an effective means to benchmark progress. They are designed to create global awareness of the challenges that gender gaps pose, as well as the opportunities that emerge when action is taken to reduce them,” said WEF.
The WEF report presents a decidedly mixed picture. Overall, the quest towards gender parity has improved, ducking back under a century and registering a marked improvement on the 108 years in the 2018 index.
Greater political representation for women has contributed to this, but overall the political arena remains the worst-performing dimension.
At the other end of the scale, it is forecast to take just 12 years to attain gender parity in education. Overall, in fact, gender parity has been fully achieved in 40 of the 153 countries ranked.
Although education attainment as well as health and survival enjoy much closer to parity (96.1 per cent and 95.7 per cent respectively), one important area of concern is that of economic participation and opportunity. This is the only dimension where progress has regressed.
Here, the figures are sobering, with a deteriorating situation forcing gender parity to a lowly 57.8 per cent which in time represents a massive 257 years before gender parity can be achieved.
The report highlights three primary reasons for this: women have greater representation in roles that are being automated; not enough women are entering professions where wage growth is the most pronounced (most obviously, but not exclusively, technology), and women face the perennial problem of insufficient care infrastructure and access to capital.
Now in its 14th year, the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 benchmarks 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.
In addition, this year’s report examines gender gap prospects in the professions of the future.