Increasing Gender Gap in India – UPSC GS1

  • India slips 28 spots on the 2021 Global Gender Gap index released by World Economic Forum.
  • Currently, India ranks 140th rank among 156 countries. In 2020, India’s rank was 112th among 153 countries on the index.
  • India was the 3rd worst performer in South Asia, after Afghanistan and Pakistan. Whereas Bangladesh topped the list in the South Asia region.
Why India’s rank slipped to 140 from 112th in 2021?
  • Declining political participation: the share of women ministers has declined sharply from 23 to 9 percent.
  • Declining labour force: Indian women’s labour force participation declined from 34.1 per cent in 1999-00 to 21 per cent in 2020.
  • Increasing crime against women: According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, nearly 88 rapes occurred daily in 2019, with Dalit women being more vulnerable.
  • Arbitrary use of State power to curtail women’s participation in social movements: For instance, arrest and sedition charges against Disha Ravi, Nodeep Kaur, Hidme Markam.
What are the other reasons for the increasing gender gap in India?  
  • Son meta preference: As per UNFPA estimates, each year India loses more than 46 million “missing women” due to misuse of ultrasound technology for sex-selective abortion.
  • Glass ceiling effect: Barriers for women to reach higher positions in corporates and public sector companies. India has only 15 percent of women as a board of directors.
  • Lack of educational opportunities due to Increase in Child marriages: According to National Family Health Survey 2020, child marriages have increased since the previous survey in 2015-16.
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace: MeToo movement has exposed the vulnerabilities of women in workplaces.
  • Weak enforcement of laws: Crèches are legally mandatory in all offices with more than 50 employees and MNREGA worksitesHowever, in practice, they hardly exist.
  • Unpaid care work: As per the 2019 NSSO time-use survey, Indian women’s daily work is almost 10 times more than men’s due to unpaid domestic chores.
  • Gender Digital divide: Though more than half of women have a mobile phone, only a third have access to the internet.
  • Increase in domestic violence: due to lack of economic independence
While other countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Rwanda are making serious efforts to close the Gender gap, India’s effort in this direction is poor. India needs to understand that Economic growth is not possible without the empowerment of women. The East Asian growth “miracle” was associated with large increases in the working women population.
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