Gender was a key theme at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year. Governments and policy influencers around the world are now looking at tapping into the female talent pool, due to which we are now being studied and spoken about. A Gender Gap Report was also released, which discussed the country specific gendered context.
Here is where India’s stands in four aspects: health, education, political participation and workforce participation:
We are doing better than the world average in terms of health and life- expectancy. There is still around 11 percent ground to cover in the male-female ratio, where we are the 3 poorest country in the world.
There has been a stark improvement in the educational status of women, although there still remains much ground to be covered. What was disturbing about the report is that the gap rises in secondary education, which means that a lot of girls drop out after they complete primary education. This is most likely to lead us to have an unskilled female pool in times to come, unless something is done that makes girls continue their education. The GOI’s Mudra Scheme of incentivizing female education with gold seems to be one step in the direction. We shall have to wait and watch.
There are only about 12 women to 88 men in the parliament (one of the poorest stats in the world). At various centre-state ministerial positions, there is a 22 to 78 ratio. Although we rank 2nd in the world when it comes to appointment of female heads of state, seems like women’s political participation is a global issue that nobody is talking much about. There is also a common presumption that women’s political awareness is quite low. It is very important that women become aware and thus actively involved in the political sphere. A rise in the number of women in this sphere will lead to more women influencing and pushing for women centric policies and programs, that could help change the larger picture.
Despite a global rise in women’s participation in the workforce, there has been an overall decline in India in the past decade. While there is a stark difference between the average minutes spent on unpaid domestic work done by women and men (352 v/s 52 minutes). Another reason for this decrease could be the patriarchal nature of our society, that confines women’s roles.
There is also an extensive pay gap between men and women in our country. In fact, we are one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to employment of women. If I a woman is getting paid Rs.100 for a particular job, a man is most likely to get Rs 151 for the same job!
There are hardly any women in senior leadership or managerial roles. There could be many reasons to this. I think this is for the fact that women have never had any autonomy in decision-making in the domestic sphere, which has been recasted in our workspace designs as well.