Global Gender Gap Report 2022 - Long Road Ahead for India

In the recently released Global Gender Gap Report 2022 by the World Economic Forum, various harsh and disappointing realities were once again shed light upon vis-a-vis the state of Gender Equality. On a global scale, while things have definitely improved, it’s still a far cry from a satisfactory situation. In fact, it was noted that the global gender gap will take another 132 years to close if things remain at the current pace. This is extremely more concerning because up till 2020, the gap was expected to close within 100 years. However, COVID-19 induced generational losses has definitely exacerbated inequalities, leaving women worse off, especially so in the developing world. The Report also mentions the expected region-wise date of closing the gender gap with South Asia expected to take the longest i.e., 197 years.

The Report’s Gender Gap Index mainly focuses on the gender gap between men and women in the four most important areas: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment. India, a fast-developing country is expected to become a global economic powerhouse in the next few decades. However, India’s policy implementation and economic potential has long been plagued by the problem of gender gap. For decades now, the female labour force participation rate is falling which indicates that an economic rise is taking place but the full potential of the demographic dividend is not being realised. India’s overall rank (135th out of 146 countries) is not only worrisome but also show the long road India has in front of it to reduce the gap and improve its ranking. India’s performance has definitely improved after the pandemic induced increase in the gap that was noted in the 2021 Report. However, India still lags behind its neighbours such as Bangladesh, China, Nepal and Maldives.

India’s best performance in the 2022 Report was in the Political Empowerment Subindex (ranked 48th) indicating the rise in female legislators in the country. Despite this, Political Empowerment recorded a declining score (-0.010) due to the diminishing share of years women have served as head of state for the past 50 years. A key point to be noted is that this is the subindex where the least progress has been made in closing the gap globally.

India’s performance in Health & Survival was the worst with the it being ranked last in the subindex. This is indicative of the rise in gender violence (prevalence of gender violence in lifetime of women is 28.70%) and worsened maternal mortality ratios (145 per 100,000 live births) during the pandemic, the aftershocks of which are going to trickle down unless policymakers actively address them.

India’s performance in Educational Attainment was mixed being ranked 107th overall but having closed the gap in enrolment in primary and tertiary education. However, much progress is left to be made in improving literacy rate and ensuring parity in enrolment at the secondary education level. Much progress is also to be made to ensure that enrolment actually results in educational attainment. It is left to be seen how badly have the lockdowns affected learning levels overall and the disproportionate effects of the same.

India’s performance in the Economic Participation and Opportunity (ranked 143rd) has also been poor and comes on the back of the aforementioned falling female labour force participation rates, increase of the burden of unpaid care work on women during pandemic and the discriminatory labour laws and codes. However, a silver lining exists in the fact that the share of women as professional and technical workers grew from 29.2 percent to 32.9 percent and that the gender parity score for estimated earned income improved. However, globally the gender parity in workforce has also declined indicating that India’s worsened performance is not an anomaly. Globally, unemployment rates have gone up for both, with more for women. Burden of Unpaid Care work has also increased, but again disproportionately affecting women more. Pay Gaps have also been resulting in Wealth Gaps, all of which is affecting women more and resulting in higher stress for women and disproportionately affecting women’s health and well-being.

Gender Gap Index (Source: Wikipedia)

For India to truly be a global economic powerhouse, the gender gap has to close much more rapidly because it is simply impossible to achieve true economic development without being inclusive of half of the population. This not only requires better policy making at all levels but also better data monitoring & evaluation, incorporating unpaid care work into national accounting frameworks, better goals for educational attainment than just enrolment and most importantly, focused on-ground work to ensure that policy implementation happens keeping with the sensitivities of local communities.


The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Brief Bulletin.


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