From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Gender Gap Report
Mains level : Paper 2- Gender discrimination
The recently released Gener Gap Report paints a grim picture for India. The deal with this issue.
Where India Stands
- The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2021 was released last week.
- The report lays bare our silent crisis of gender inequality, aggravated by the covid pandemic.
- 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, last year it was a 33.2% deficit on the whole.
- Back in 2006, we were almost 40% short, but even the slight progress made over the past 15 years has been highly uneven.
- Gains were made on the education and political empowerment of women, we slid sharply on health and economic parameters.
Factors to consider
- Though pandemic has been responsible for the 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, for example, has to do with regression in the field of political power.
- The proportion of women ministers more than halved to 9.1% of the total, though our count of female Parliamentarians did not budge from its long stagnancy.
- Our performance over the past decade-and-a-half has been poor on women’s 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 the aggregate level, our income disparity is glaring.
- Women earn only a fifth of men, which puts India among the world’s worst 10 on this indicator.
- We fare worse on women’s health and survival, with India beaten to the last rank only by China.
Why proportionally fewer Indian women in jobs?
- One explanation is that sociocultural attitudes go against women going out to work, unless the family lacks sustenance, and deprivation has been in decline for decades.
- 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.
- Yet, the covid setback to both family incomes and gender progress would suggest the reasons are mostly attitudinal.
- If the reasons are attitudinal, tax incentives and 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 equity in every sphere.
A country’s economic progress is inextricably linked to empowered women. So, India needs to act on the silent crisis of India’s gender deficit to move up the economic ladder.