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India pushes for inclusion of women’s political representation at grassroots for WEF’s Gender Gap report

Absence of such parameters is why India has traditionally not fared well in the Global Gender Gap Index (ranked 135 out 146 countries this year), say officials

January 24, 2023 08:32 am | Updated January 26, 2023 10:23 am IST - New Delhi

A woman casting her vote during a gram panchayat election, in Pamarru of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. File photo

A woman casting her vote during a gram panchayat election, in Pamarru of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. File photo | Photo Credit: V. Raju

India has successfully pushed for including women’s participation in local government bodies as a parameter for the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report where it has traditionally not fared well.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India at 135 out of 146 countries in its Global Gender Gap (GGG) Index for 2022. In 2021, India was ranked 140 out of 156 countries. The gender gap is the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes.

“At the Women and Child Development Ministry, we are happy to share that the World Economic Forum has recognised the need to enumerate women’s participation in local government bodies in the Gender Gap Report. This is a big victory for 1.4 million grassroots women locally elected at panchayat level in India,” Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said in a tweet.

“Additionally, @wef confirming its willingness to study India’s Gender Budget System is also a huge acknowledgement of PM @narendramodi Ji’s efforts to ensure women-led development,” she said in another tweet.

Ms. Irani had travelled to Davos to attend the WEF Annual Meeting.

In a letter to the Women and Child Development Minister, the Centre for the New Economy and Society of the WEF said it will work on improving data collection and cross-country benchmarking efforts to assess in a globally comparable way participation of women in local political decision-making.

The letter also said that the WEF would showcase on the Forum’s digital platform the impact achieved by the Indian Government through its Gender Budgeting System, promoting gender equality in all sectors and at all levels of governance. “We look forward to learning more about this work from the Finance Commission of India,” it said.

The WEF will also help establish a Skills and Gender Parity accelerator in India to identify and scale up targeted public-private initiatives that will prepare the Indian workforce for the future of work, support the development of the Indian digital, care and green economy and expand the skills of women for the new economy, it said.

Officials in the Women and Child Development Ministry said that India has traditionally not fared well in the Gender Gap Reports as parameters like the participation of women in grassroots democratic institutions like Panchayats have never been counted.

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