India is still struggling to stop child marriages and improve the health of its mothers, a United Nations report on gender inequality and women’s rights showed. As much as 27% of girls in India are married before they turn 18, whereas the global average is 28%, according to the UN Population Fund’s State of the World Population Report 2017.
India fared poorly in maternal health, as well. The maternal mortality rate – mothers dying per 1,00,000 live births – is 174 in India. While this is lower than the global average of 216, it is far worse when compared to a mortality rate of 12 in more developed countries.
India’s performance on the Social Institution and Gender Index, a comprehensive view of gender discrimination in 160 countries, is mediocre.
The index covers discrimination against women and girls through family code, preference for sons and restricted civil liberties, among other aspects, the report said. Countries are valued from zero to one, and the higher the value, the worse they are doing.
India’s value in 2014 was between 0.25 and 0.3, placing it in the “median gender difference in region” category. Very high values are those above 0.35, recorded by Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
India and Pakistan also recorded the widest gender wage gap in the South Asia region in 2016. According to the graph measuring 90 countries, the only nation with a worse wage gap was Jordan.
When it came to work, women in India faced several obstacles that stopped them from working. This was not only a social issue, but was also costing India financially, the UN report said. The study referred to a 2015 report by the Mckinsey Global Institute to show how if more women in India joined the labour force, it would add about 1.4 percentage points to the Gross Domestic Product by 2025.