The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been bringing out the Global Gender Gap Index since 2006. The index provides a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender-based disparities across four thematic dimensions or sub-divisions — economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. Although, over the years, the number of countries mapped by the index has gone up from 115 to 149 this year, yet what makes this index quite useful for comparison is the fact that its methodology has stayed the same.
A full gender parity yields a score of one and complete disparity yields 0.
This year’s broad results are shown in Chart 1. India is ranked a lowly 108, and while Pakistan languishes at 148, it is cold comfort when other comparable countries such as Indonesia, Brazil China or South Africa rank much better. Chart 2 provides a snapshot of India’s performance in comparison with others on each of the four sub-indices.
Each of these charts maps the first and last country in a sub-division, and as such, provides the range that exists. As can be seen, the gender gap is relatively small across countries when it comes to health but widens considerably when it comes to political empowerment or economic participation.
Chart 3 provides an understanding of how far India has come in each of the sub-divisions since the first report in 2006. While India’s overall score has improved, in two sub-categories — economic participation and health and survival — the gender gap has worsened.
Chart 4 places India in the context of its immediate neighbourhood. The leader of the group, and almost an outlier, is Bangladesh, which is the only one in the top 50 while the rest struggle to break into the top 100. No surprises then that, as a region, South Asia lags behind the global average, as shown in Chart 5.