Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Address the silent crisis of India’s gender deficit


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.

Way forward

  • 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.

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