India ranked 135th on the annual Global Gender Gap Index released by the World Economic Forum in Geneva on Wednesday. It has ranked a total of 146 nations.

The countries are ranked based on scores across four main subindexes – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

“The Educational Attainment and Health and Survival subindexes [for India] report small, insignificant changes,” it said. “However, Political Empowerment records a declining score [-0.010] due to the diminishing share of years women have served as head of state for the past 50 years.”

A significant change has been recorded in India’s performance in the economic participation and the opportunity component. However, labour-force participation fell for both men (by -9.5% points) and women (-3% points) since 2021.

“The share of women legislators, senior officials and managers increased from 14.6% to 17.6%, and the share of women as professional and technical workers grew from 29.2% to 32.9%,” it said. “The gender parity score for estimated earned income improved; while values for both men and women diminished.”

India’s ranking has improved by five places from last year’s 140th place. In 2020, India ranked 112th place among 153 countries on the index.

This year, only 11 countries are ranked below India on the index. Afghanistan ranked last on the list. Pakistan, Congo, Iran and Chad are among the worst gender-equal countries.

South Asian countries have one of the lowest regional gender parity scores for the health and survival component. “Sex ratio at birth remains relatively low in large, populated countries such as India and Pakistan,” the report added.

Iceland secured the highest place in the index. Finland is ranked second, followed by Norway, New Zealand and Sweden.

Gender parity not improving across world

According to the report, gender parity is not recovering across the globe.

“It will take another 132 years to close the global gender gap,” the report stated. “As crises are compounding, women’s workforce outcomes are suffering and the risk of global gender parity backsliding further intensifies.”

Loss of jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic has been significantly worse for women than for men, the report stated.

“The cost of living crisis is impacting women disproportionately after the shock of labour market losses during the pandemic and the continued inadequacy of care infrastructure,” Managing Director of the World Economic Forum Saadia Zahidi said, PTI reported.

Zahidi said that the governments need to make targeted policies to support women’s return to offices and develop their talents in future industries.

“Otherwise, we risk eroding the gains of the last decades permanently and losing out on the future economic returns of diversity,” she added.