Gender Gap Report 21: India’s ranking continues to slide - CEDA (2023)

The 2021 edition of the annual Global Gender Gap Report, produced by the World Economic Forum, was published recently. It examines gender gaps along four dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

Of the 156 countries included this year, India is at the 17th position – from the bottom, i.e., at 140. In 2017, India ranked 108 among 144 countries, which was a slide of 20 points compared to 2016. Over the last six years, as the number of countries included in the report has increased, India’s relative position has worsened.

Like all indices, the “Global Gender Gap index”, first introduced in 2006, is a précis measure, in turn a combination of four different sub-indices (economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment), each summarizing multiple indicators. The index lies between 0 and 1, with 1 denoting complete parity. It is important to note that this index focuses on gender gaps, and not on whether “women are winning the battle of the sexes”, i.e. the focus is on the position of women relative to men (i.e. gender equality), rather than to their absolute position. The idea is to track changes in gender gaps both over time and across countries.

The WEF Gender Gap Rankings

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The CEDA team has developed a tracker which allows us to see the change in India’s position over time and relative to other countries separately for each of the sub-indices, as well as for the overall index. The lowest value of the index is 0 (far left) and the highest value is 1 (far right). We can hover over the graph to read the values for specific countries and use the slider on the left to examine the change over time.

(To view this visualization fully on your device, click here)

Like all indices, it does not include everything that matters for gender equality, but focuses only on a few key measures. It should not be seen as a comprehensive treatise on gender equality, but as a useful pointer or a highlighter of key summary statistics that can be reliably measured and tracked.

Of the four sub-indices, India’s rank (at 151 out of 156 countries) is very low in the economic participation and opportunity sub-index, where it is just one rank above Pakistan, and below Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, but the value of the index is also low: 0.326.

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We can see that India’s position, compared to other countries, in the economic participation and opportunity sub-index has consistently worsened since 2014. While 2020 was a difficult year for all countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic (reflected in the stalled or marginal progress on this component of the index globally), India’s downwards slide on this sub-component predates the pandemic. Globally, only 58.3% of this gap has closed, with no improvement over last year. In India, only 32.6% of this gap has closed (down from 44.8% in 2012).

The gender gap in economic participation and opportunity has widened by 12 percentage points since 2014.

This sub index is based on gender gaps in labour force participation, share in managerial positions, wage gaps, and wage parity (equal pay for equal work).

As the report states, globally, one of the most important reasons underlying gender inequality is women’s underrepresentation in the labour market. We need to note that the statistics included in the report are from 2019; in other words, these gaps do not reflect the widespread negative impact of Covid-19 on gender gaps in the labour market. The actual gaps in 2020 are likely to be higher.

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As the CEDA tracker shows, it is important to focus on the value of the index as well as the ranking. For example, in the health and survival index, India’s value of 0.937 indicates the 93.7% of the gender gap has closed. However, India’s rank is at 155, followed by China because of the persistence of strong son preference and sex-selective abortions. Despite a reasonably good absolute value of the sub-index, India’s rank is low because other countries have done significantly better — 30 countries share the number one spot in this sub-index (with a value of 0.98).

India does relatively better in education (at 114 with a value of 0.962) reflecting the steady increase in women’s educational attainment and a steady closing of gender gaps.

Paradoxically, India’s rank on political participation index is surprisingly high at 51, despite the low value of 0.276, due to the low global value of this sub-index. This reflects the fact that while the rest of the world has made significant forward strides towards gender equality in the economic, educational and health spheres, the global progress on gender equality in political participation remains low.

Why Should Gender Equality Matter?

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Discussions of gender gaps are often dismissed as issues that keep some academics, activists, NGO communities and development aid agencies – the liberal do-gooders – busy. What is significant about this particular ranking is that it is compiled by the World Economic Forum, which engages the “foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” Could this be because gender gaps matter for business and growth?

Indeed they do. It turns out that gender equality is desirable, even for purely instrumental reasons, and should be supported even by those who think of equity concerns as getting in the way of business. As several of the Global Gender Gap reports points out, talent is important for competitiveness and to find the best talent, everyone should have equal opportunity. “When women and girls are not integrated … the global community loses out on skills, ideas and perspectives that are critical for addressing global challenges and harnessing new opportunities.”

The 2021 report notes that at the current pace, it would take 195.4 years for the gender gaps to close in South Asia. While we aspire to be the Vishwaguru (teacher of the world), it appears that the rest of the world has something to teach us when it comes to basic elements of gender equality. Countries that do well on gender equality come in all shapes and sizes: countries at the very top include Iceland, Rwanda, Lithuania, Germany, Namibia, the Philippines, South Africa, in addition to the usual suspects from Scandinavia. India needs to pay urgent and focused attention to the massive gender gaps in the economic sphere, take immediate steps to increase work and livelihood opportunities for women, which will also contribute to a reduction on son preference and have positive effects on other indicators.

There is ample research documenting the staggering economic costs of side lining women. An OECD estimate reveals that gender-based discrimination in social institutions could cost up to USD 12 trillion for the global economy, and that a reduction in gender discrimination can increase the rate of growth of GDP. Internalization of this understanding would mean that gender equality has to be mainstreamed into economic policy making, rather than viewed as a residual concern to be tackled later, as an afterthought.

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However, equality in the economic sphere can materialize only when we go beyond slogans to create a society that treats women as independent, intelligent, capable adults who are free to make their individual choices in all matters concerning their lives, and included as equals at all levels of decision-making.

(Note: an earlier version of this piece appeared as a comment in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol LVI, No. 15, April 10, 2021)


What is India's rank in gender gap? ›

ListIndia Ranking/Total CountriesNotes
Aggregate metrics
Human Development Index131/ 1892020 report – score 0.647
Inequality-adjusted HDI94/ 1512020- score 0.538
Social Progress Index117 / 1282020 report- score 56.80
18 more rows

What is the main reason for gender inequality in India? ›

One of the major causes of gender inequality is the lack of awareness among women about their rights and their ability to achieve equality. This lack of awareness is often due to the prevailing cultural and social norms, which dictate that women should be subservient to men.

What are the main issues of gender inequality in India? ›

With the prevalence of gender discrimination, and social norms and practices, girls become exposed to the possibility of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child domestic work, poor education and health, sexual abuse, exploitation and violence.

What is gender gap summary? ›

In 2021, full-time, year-round working women earned 84% of what their male counterparts earned, on average, according to the Census Bureau's most recent analysis. Much of the gender pay gap has been explained by measurable factors such as educational attainment, occupational segregation and work experience.

What rank is India in the world? ›

India has recently overtaken the UK to become the fifth largest economy in the world. What is the nominal GDP of India in 2022? India's nominal GDP in 2022 is $3.8 trillion. According to the World Economy Ranking 2022, which are the countries with the 10 largest economies in the world?

What is All India rank? ›

All India rank is the rank that one have secured in whole India. While Category rank is your rank that one have secured in a specific or particular category.

What are women's rights in India? ›

The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State (Article 15(1)), equality of opportunity (Article 16), equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)) and Article 42.

What is an example of gender bias in India? ›

Discrimination affects many aspects in the lives of women from career development and progress to mental health disorders. While Indian laws on rape, dowry and adultery have women's safety at heart, these highly discriminatory practices are still taking place at an alarming rate, affecting the lives of many today.

How can we stop gender inequality in India? ›

  1. Increasing representation of women by reserving seats in legislature, increasing the reservation of seats to 50% in rural and urban self government.
  2. The Equal Remuneration Act,1976 must be strictly enforced to reduce the existing wage gaps.
  3. Strict punishment should be handed out to people promoting female foeticide.

What are the two major discrimination in India? ›

(i) Malnutrition: Malnourished women give birth to malnourished children. India has a very high rate of child malnutrition. (ii) Poor health: Women receive less healthcare than men. (iii) Lack of education: In villages, families are less likely to educate girls because they need to do household work.

What are the current women's issues in India? ›

Safety Concern: In India, despite of continuous efforts in the field of Safety, women are threatened by various acts via feticides, domestic violence, rape, trafficking, forced prostitution, honour killings, sexual harassment at workplace etc.

What are India women's issues? ›

Q.1 What issues do women face in India? A.1 Women in India have to face a lot of issues. They have to go through gender discrimination, harassment, sexual abuse, lack of education, dowry-related harassment, gender pay gap and much more.

What are 3 examples of gender inequality in society today? ›

Gender Inequality Examples:
  • Gender inequality in girls education. Even before the pandemic, girls were more likely than boys to never set foot in a classroom and be denied equal opportunities. ...
  • Child marriage. ...
  • Gender-based violence. ...
  • Child labor.

What is the main cause of gender gap? ›

While many factors contribute to the gender wage gap, including discriminatory practices, research suggests that time away from employment, occupational clustering, and the time demands of jobs explain much of the difference in wages between men and women.

Which countries love India? ›

Countries considered India's closest include the United Arab Emirates, Russian Federation, Israel, Afghanistan, France, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and the United States.

Is India is a rich country? ›

Even though India's GDP is 3 trillion but still India is not in the line of World's Richest Country. Because India has a huge population.
Richest Country in Asia.
Article CaptionWorld's Richest Country
India Place in World's Richest Country in 20503rd
5 more rows
1 day ago

Why is India important to the world? ›

Large population

India has the world's largest population after China and has a positive Population Growth Rate. About half of its population is under 25, which suggests that economic growth should not be constrained in the next decades by contraction of the active workforce though aging.

Which country is No 1 in world? ›

United States. The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world's most dominant economic and military power.

Who is India's number 1? ›

Reliance Industries

With a market cap of ₹1,563,887 crores Reliance Industries leads the Indian Industries with the highest market cap.

How is women's safety in India? ›

Today, the safety of women in India is widely discussed everywhere. Now it has become a serious problem. The crime rate is skyrocketing. Women are not safe either at home or outside. Female travelers from other countries also find themselves in a precarious position when traveling to India.

Does India support gender equality? ›

Although the Indian constitution has granted both men and women equal rights, gender disparities continue to live and rule. Indian society has always been the hub of this discrimination, making women its victim. In the land where women are Goddess's, the same Nation leaves a blot of atrocities and inequality.

When did gender inequality start in India? ›

It was only in the late 1970s that women began mobilizing around issues of gender violence, such as “rape, dowry deaths, wife-beating, sati (the immolation of widows on their husband's funeral pyre), female-neglect resulting in differential mortality rates, and, more recently, female feticide following amniocentesis,” ...

What is the gender role in India? ›

Traditionally in the Indian culture the gender roles are quite specific and very traditional. The women are supposed to take care of raising children and perform domestic works while the men provide financial support.

How can we improve gender equality? ›

  1. From increasing women's representation in leadership and decision-making to redistributing care-work and productive resources, progress towards a gender equal and sustainable future starts with taking action today. ...
  2. Empower women smallholders. ...
  3. Invest in care. ...
  4. Support women's leadership. ...
  5. Fund women's organizations.
Feb 28, 2022

How can we promote equality in India? ›

  • Treating everyone equally and fairly.
  • Creating an inclusive culture that has respect for all cultures and religions.
  • Ensuring equal access to opportunities for all the citizens.
  • Enabling people to develop their full potential.
  • Educating people and making them understand the importance of Equality.

How does gender inequality affect poverty in India? ›

In India, among the 30 per cent people who are below the poverty line, 70 per cent are women, leading to economic dependence on men that becomes a root cause of gender disparity. Illiteracy follows closely in contributing to this inequality. There are around 960 million illiterate adults, of whom two-thirds are women.

What are 3 examples of discrimination? ›

Types of Discrimination
  • Age Discrimination.
  • Disability Discrimination.
  • Sexual Orientation.
  • Status as a Parent.
  • Religious Discrimination.
  • National Origin.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Sexual Harassment.

What are the two reasons for inequality in India answer? ›

Statement 1: Discrimination on the basis of a person's religion, caste and gender is encouraged by the Indian constitution. Statement 2: Poverty, social discrimination and lack of resources are the key reasons why the lives of people in India are highly unequal.

What makes people of India equal? ›

The Constitution of India has granted the right to equality to all citizens. All are equal before the law and there can be no discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, gender, place of birth, etc.

What is the main problem of women's education in India? ›

The most important reason is the lack of proper resources. In India, most of the women are illiterate because they are not allowed to go for education. Society thinks that men must educate their children, especially girls, because they think that women's role is only to take care of the house and family.

Is there a wage gap in India? ›

This greater wage reduction for women means that the pre-existing gender pay gap has widened. Despite notable progress in closing the gender pay gap over time in India, the gap remains high by international standards. Indian women earned, on an average, 48% less compared to their male counterparts in 1993-94.

What women's rights are being violated? ›

  • Gender-Based Violence. ...
  • Sexual Violence and Harassment. ...
  • Workplace Discrimination. ...
  • Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

What are the 5 causes of gender-based violence? ›

What causes gender-based violence?
  • Cultural factors.
  • Legal factors.
  • Economic factors.
  • Political factors.

How does gender inequality affect the US? ›

Structural racism and gender inequality affect access and awareness to healthcare and fertility care, like contraceptives, family planning resources, and sex education. Black and American Indian/Alaska Native cisgender women have a higher risk of infertility compared to White cisgender women.

How can we stop gender gap? ›

Women and Girls – Closing the Gender Gap

How can we prevent gender gap? ›

10 ways to eliminate gender bias in the workplace
  1. Be transparent. ...
  2. Support women into more senior roles. ...
  3. Implement gender neutral recruitment processes. ...
  4. Review salaries and standardise pay. ...
  5. Provide training on unconscious bias. ...
  6. Have a clear policy on discrimination.
Feb 4, 2023

How can we reduce the gender gap in our society? ›

Five Ways to Fight Gender Inequality
  1. Give girls access to education. ...
  2. Give women platforms to be in power and achieve economic success. ...
  3. End violence and sexual assault against women. ...
  4. Assure girls and women have access to menstrual health facilities. ...
  5. End child marriage.
May 30, 2019

What are the effects of gender gaps? ›

What is gender inequality?
  • lower rates of schooling and employment.
  • less pay for similar work.
  • higher levels of stress.
  • higher rates of unpaid work, such as caring for sick relatives.
  • exposure to higher rates of sexual assault, intimate partner abuse, and gender-based violence.
  • a lack of representation in government.
Jun 30, 2021

How does culture affect gender inequality in India? ›

Cultural institutions in India, particularly those of patrilineality (inheritance through male descendants) and patrilocality (married couples living with or near the husband's parents), play a central role in perpetuating gender inequality and ideas about gender-appropriate behaviour.

Does India have a gender pay gap? ›

This greater wage reduction for women means that the pre-existing gender pay gap has widened. Despite notable progress in closing the gender pay gap over time in India, the gap remains high by international standards. Indian women earned, on an average, 48% less compared to their male counterparts in 1993-94.

Does India have more girls than boys? ›

In 2020, the sex ratio of the total population in India is 108.18 males per 100 females. There are 717,100,970 or 717.10 million males and 662,903,415 or 662.90 million females in India.
Gender ratio in India.
SourceUN (World Population Prospects 2019)
Date16 Jan 2021

Are there more girls in India than boys? ›

For every 1,000 men, India has 1,020 women. If that's a reason to celebrate, there is a cause for concern, too, since the sex ratio at birth continues to be lower than what is naturally expected.

Which country is top in gender gap index? ›

The global gender gap index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education, and health-based criteria. In 2022, the country offering most gender equal conditions was Iceland with a score of 0.91.

How to reduce gender inequality in India? ›

  1. Increasing representation of women by reserving seats in legislature, increasing the reservation of seats to 50% in rural and urban self government.
  2. The Equal Remuneration Act,1976 must be strictly enforced to reduce the existing wage gaps.
  3. Strict punishment should be handed out to people promoting female foeticide.

What is the percentage of gender equality in India? ›

Gender equality in India was reported at 0.66667 % in 2020, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources. India - Gender equality - actual values, historical data, forecasts and projections were sourced from the World Bank on March of 2023.

What is current gender ratio in India? ›

The gender ratio in India was 900 between 2013 and 2015. This meant, for every 1,000 males, 900 females were present.
Gender ratio in India from 2005 to 2021 (females per 1,000 males)
CharacteristicGender ratio
6 more rows
Jun 25, 2022

How many girls are single in India? ›

India's 72 million single women is a figure that is larger than the populations of the United Kingdom and Switzerland put together. India's 72 million single women includes widows, divorcees, unmarried women. Singles need no longer remain a mere statistic. They can be a force to reckon with.

What is the gender ratio in China? ›

Gender imbalance

While the difference of gender at birth has been decreasing in the country over the past decade, China still boasts the world's most skewed sex ratio at birth at around 110 males born for every 100 females as of 2021. That means there are about 34 million.

Which state has more girls in India? ›

The Kerala continues to outshine all other states of India when it comes to highest sex ratio or gender ratio. In Kerala, we have 1084 females for every 1000 males. Kerala is also top educated state in India. The overall gender ratio of Indian states is poor compared to developed countries.

Is India's birth rate declining? ›

NEW DELHI: The General Fertility Rate (GFR) has declined in India by 20% over the past decade. GFR refers to the number of children born per 1,000 women in a year in the reproductive age group of 15-49 years. The average GFR in India stood at 86.

How many boys are single in India? ›

Almost 57 million men between the ages of 20 and 34 are unmarried. Almost 253 million Hindu men remain unmarried.

How many boys have girls in India? ›

As of 2021, India recorded a gender ratio of approximately 1,020 women to every one thousand men.

Which country has most equality? ›

According to the Gender Inequality Index (GII), Denmark was the most gender equal country in the world in 2021.

What country has the best women's rights? ›

Best Countries for Women
  • Sweden.
  • Norway.
  • Finland.
  • Denmark.
  • Switzerland.
  • Canada.

What is the gender wealth gap in the US? ›

The Gender Wealth Gap Is Larger Than the Income Gap

In fact, the gender wealth gap is considerably larger than the gender wage gap. Families headed by women have just 55 cents in median wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by families headed by men, as discussed in a Jan. 12, 2021, In the Balance article.


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