India is among the worst places in the world when women’s health is compared with men’s, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016. India was ranked 142 on the “health and survival” parameter in the international body’s survey of the differences between the genders in 144 countries. The report measured gender parity through four indices: health, education, economy and politics.
India was ranked a dismal 136th on economic participation and opportunity, and 113th on educational attainment. The only index on which India fared well was political participation – it came in at 9th in the world. Overall, it was placed 87th on the international body’s list.
The 11th edition of the WEF’s report was not worrying for only India, though. It said the global gender gap is widening and it will take at least 170 years for women to earn as much as men and for them participate equally in the workforce. The international body called for urgent action, saying that progress on the gender equality front was actually slowing down and even reversing in some countries – last year it had predicted these changes would take 118 years.
While differences in access to education are reducing, researchers found that that the gap in income and employment has widened over the past four years – it currently stands at 59%. According to the report, the average pay gap for women around the world is nearly half of what men earn, and most of them work longer hours when unpaid labour is factored in. Moreover, women are less likely to be given senior roles in organisations or be retained in the workforce after having children.
Saadia Zahidi, a member of WEF’s executive committee, attributed the widening gap to countries’ slowing economies. The best performing countries on the list were Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Rwanda. The poorest were Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The United States stood at 73rd while the United Kingdom was ranked 20th.