Gender equality

India falls 21 places in global gender equality report, ranks 108 in 144-nation list

In 2016, India’s rank was 87.

India fell 21 places on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index to 108 – far below the global average and much behind its neighbours China and Bangladesh. India lost out mainly because of lower participation of women in the economy and low wages.

The gender gap is the difference between women and men in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments. The Global Gender Gap Report ranks 144 countries on the progress they have made towards gender parity in four areas – health, education, economics and politics.

In 2016, India’s rank was 87. In 2006, when the World Economic Forum started measuring gender gap across the world, India’s rank was 10 notches higher than it is in 2017.

According to the 2017 report, India has closed 67% of its gender gap, but this is less than many of its neighbours such as Bangladesh, which ranked 47, and China, which was placed 100.

Where India lost out

India’s greatest challenges were in the economic participation and opportunities for women, where the country is ranked 139. “On average, 66% of women’s work in India is unpaid, compared to 12% of men’s,” the report said.

India did not perform too well in the health and survival pillar either, where it is ranked 141 – the fourth-lowest in the world.

The report said gender gaps in political empowerment, life expectancy and basic literacy also caused India’s rank to slip. It has been more than 50 years since India’s first woman prime minister came to power, it said. “Maintaining its global top 20 ranking on the political empowerment sub-index will require India to make progress on this dimension with a new generation of female political leadership.”

India, however, fully closed the gap in primary and secondary education enrolment for the second year in a row.

Around the world

The global gender gap widened this year, for the first time since the World Economic Forum’s index started. “A decade of slow but steady progress on improving parity between the sexes came to a halt in 2017,” it said.

At the current rate of progress, the global gender gap will take 100 years to bridge, compared to 83 last year. The case is worse in terms of workplace gender divide, which the report estimates will take 217 years to close.

At the top of the Global Gender Gap Index is Iceland. The country has closed nearly 88% of its gap. It has been the world’s most gender-equal country for nine years. Others in the top 10 include Norway, Finland, Rwanda, Sweden, Nicaragua, Slovenia, Ireland, New Zealand and the Philippines.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.