“The country (India) has closed two-thirds of its overall gender gap (score of 66.8%). However, the condition of women in large fringes of India’s society is precarious. It has lost four positions since the previous edition, despite a small score improvement, as some countries ranked lower than India have improved more," the report said.
“The economic gender gap runs particularly deep in India. Only one-third of the gap has been bridged (score of 35.4%, 149th, down 7 places). Since 2006, the gap has gotten significantly wider. Among the 153 countries studied, India is the only country where the economic gender gap is larger than the political gender gap," it added.
India ranked 18th in political empowerment and 4th in the number of years a female or a male ruled a state. It ranks 149th in economic participation and opportunity and 117th in wage equality for similar work. The country ranked 112th in educational attainment and 150th in health and survival.
“The wide Gender Gap in India is due to Religious and Historical Societal linkages. The process is much slower as compared to other countries because of attitudes prevailing in Indian societal culture.
“Of the past 50 years, the country was headed by a woman for 20 years (4th) which largely explains this strong performance. But today, female political representation is low: women make up only 14.4% of the parliament (122nd) and 23% of the cabinet (69th)," the report said.
According to the report, Nordic countries continue to lead the way to gender parity. Iceland (87.7%) remains the world’s most gender-equal country, followed by Norway (2nd, 84.2%), Finland (3rd, 83.2%) and Sweden (4th, 82.0%). Other economies in the top 10 include Nicaragua (5th, 80.4%), New Zealand (6th, 79.9%), Ireland (7th, 79.8%), Spain (8th, 79.5%), Rwanda (9th, 79.1%) and Germany (10th, 78.7%).
Our approach for gender parity will have to change to speed up the process. It will need better and appropriate education for the girls & boys and men & women with an aim to bring attitudinal changes," said V P Gupta, from Society for Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA), a Community based research organisation working ln , gender equality, rights of unorganized sector workers.
“To get to parity in the next decade instead of the next two centuries, we will need to mobilize resources, focus leadership attention and commit to targets across the public and private sectors. Business-as-usual will not close the gender gap – we must take action to achieve the virtuous cycle that parity creates in economies and societies," said Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum.