UN Report: India Stands Low In Women Empowerment

India's paradoxical position in UN's Women Empowerment and Gender Parity indices has been unveiled. The comprehensive report evaluated 114 countries.

Harnur Watta
Aug 21, 2023 19:37 IST
Image credits: The Times of India

Image credits: The Times of India

India, a nation positioned in the medium human development category according to the Human Development Index (HDI), has garnered attention for its classification in the group of countries with low levels of women empowerment and global gender parity. 

This revelation stems from the pioneering twin indices, Women Empowerment Index (WEI) and Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI), jointly released by UN Women and UNDP. 

The report uncovers a stark reality - 3.1 billion women and girls, constituting over 90% of the global female population, reside in countries characterised by limited or intermediate levels of women's empowerment and gender parity accomplishments. 

Alarmingly, none among the 114 countries scrutinised have attained complete women's empowerment or comprehensive gender parity.


The Indian Scenario

India displays a mixed picture when it comes to women empowerment. 

While the nation scores well in financial inclusion, with a substantial portion of women possessing their personal bank accounts, it also leads in local self-government participation.


 However, the report accentuates significant gaps in several crucial areas. 

Skill development, women's representation in the labour market, political engagement, and participation in the private sector are the areas where the country falls short.

The report, aptly titled The Paths To Equal, introduces an unprecedented assessment of 114 countries using the twin indices for women empowerment and gender parity. 


This endeavour underscores that higher levels of human development do not inherently translate into gender equality and women empowerment. 

UN Women and  UNDP assert that these indices in tandem offer a more comprehensive view of nations' strides toward gender equality and women empowerment.

"Less than 1% of women and girls live in a country with high women's empowerment and a small gender gap. Globally, women attain only 60% of their full potential, as measured by the WEI, achieving 28% less than men across key human development dimensions, as measured by the GGPI," the report reveals. 


India's empowerment deficit stands at 48%, and its gender gap is calculated at 44% according to WEI and GGPI, respectively. While India's WEI score exceeds the central and southern Asia regional average of 50%, the gender gap at 44% slightly surpasses the regional gap of 42%.

Unveiling the Triumphs and Challenges

Within India, certain indicators reflect encouraging progress. 


For instance, a remarkable 77.5% of women in their reproductive age have their family planning needs met with modern methods. 

Additionally, the nation's adolescent birth rate, at 16.3 per 1,000 women aged 15-19, significantly outperforms the regional average of 27.8.

The country also shines in financial inclusion, with 77.6% of women and girls aged 15 and over possessing accounts with financial institutions or mobile money service providers. 


Local governance paints a positive picture as well, with women occupying 44% of local government seats. 

However, national political representation remains lacking, with women holding just 14.7% of parliamentary seats and a mere 15.9% presence in managerial roles.

Despite these triumphs, there are areas where India faces considerable hurdles

Over 43.5% of young women aged 15-24 are neither in education, employment, nor training, in contrast to 13.7% of men in the same age group. 

Labour force participation also displays disparity, with only 27.1% of women aged 25-54 in households with young children engaged in the workforce, compared to a staggering 97.3% for men.

The WEI, a powerful gauge of women's agency and opportunities, takes into account women's freedom to make choices and seize life's chances. 

An important milestone, it is the first UN gender index to incorporate violence against women and girls as a distinct dimension. 

On the other hand, the GGPI illuminates the extent of women's accomplishments relative to men's across diverse human development facets.

Suggested Reading: Women Bear Burden Of Water Fetching In Households: WHO Report

#Women Empowerment Index #UN Women #UNDP #Global Gender Parity Index