India still has quite some way to go in bridging the gender gap in the areas of health, education and economics, if not politics. It has been ranked 101 among 136 countries in the The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 released recently by the World Economic Forum.
The World Economic Forum has placed India in the 101st position among 136 countries in the 2013 edition of an annual report that makes a global assessment of the progress made in bridging the gender gap. But India has fared better in terms of the political empowerment of women.
India's gender gap index was 0.655 on a 0 to 1 scale, with 0 denoting inequality and 1 equality.
India's position has improved marginally in recent years; after hovering between positions 114 and 112 between 2007 and 2011 it has now shot to the 101st position. But its best position so far was in 2006 - when it stood 98th. It was ranked 105th in 2012.
The Global Gender Gap Index
tries to measure the 'relative gaps between women and men' across countries in four key areas - health, education, economics and politics.
The rankings are based on four of sub-indices that measure economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. It is in the political empowerment arena that India has scored strong, being ranked 9th.
The political sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the apex of the political decision-making hierarchy in terms of the ratio of women to men in minister-level positions and in parliament. The ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the past 50 years is also taken into consideration.
But in the other three, India has not been ranked particularly high - 124 in terms of economic participation and equality, 120 for educational attainment and 135 for health and survival.
"India gains four places in the ranking based on improvement in the years with the Female head of state indicator, although India’s score on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex decreased. It also continues to be the lowest ranked of the BRIC economies," the report said referring to the country's poisition this year.
The Index focuses on measuring "gaps rather than levels" and it "captures gaps in outcome variables rather than gaps in means or input variables". It seeks to rank countries on the basis of gender equality rather than women’s empowerment.
At the global level, "on average, in 2013, over 96 per cent of the gap in health outcomes, 93 per cent of the gap in educational attainment, 60 per cent of the gap in economic participation and 21 per cent of the gap in political empowerment has been closed".
Iceland was at the top of the Index for the fifth consecutive year and the next three spots were also occupied by other Nordic countries - Finland, Norway and Sweden.
"While many developed economies have succeeded in closing the gender gap in education, few have succeeded in maximizing the returns from this investment" like the Nordic countries have done, the report says.
The four countries occupying the last four positions in the Index from 133 to 136 are Syria, Chad, Pakistan and Yemen respectively.