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The Global Gender Gap Index was first introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 to benchmark progress towards gender parity and compare countries’ gender gaps across four dimensions: economic opportunities, education, health and political leadership. By providing country rankings, the report incentivizes comparisons across regions and countries and stimulates learning on the drivers of gender gaps and policies to close them. In simple terms, how much progress made by men vs women corner the discussion. Let us look at 405 pages report from their web site as under:

This voluminous report made by World Economic Forum, Switzerland is titled above. A general information about the study, its evolution and the details of its membership etc., would form the basis of this article.

Yes, effort will be made to cover India on all parameters over the period of time as reported in the Index 21.

A brief history and why did it start to cover both men and women?

Following a methodology originally developed by the United Nations Development Program me (UNDP), the Global Gender Gap Index estimates the average income earned by women, relative to income earned by men, in a calculation that takes into account a country’s GDP per capita (US$), the share of women and men in the labor force, and their mean nominal wages.

Let me narrate the total parameters compared for our discussion. (12 of them)

  • Economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, Health and survival
  • Health and survival, Political empowerment, General Indicators, Work participation and leadership.
  • Access to finance, Civil and political freedom, Family and care, Education and skills,
  • Health.
  • I have taken those covered for India which may be less or more as compared to others. A total of 14 heads out of which a minimum of 10 need information for inclusion in the index.

Let us see how many chapters adorn this monumental report?

156 countries contributed towards the study which consist of the following chapters.

1. Preface Key Findings Chapter 1 Benchmarking Gender Gaps: Findings from the Global Gender Gap Index 2021

1.1 Country Coverage, 2021,

1.2 Global Results

1.3 Performance by Subindex

1.4 Progress Over Time

1.5 Performance by Region

1.6 Conclusions Chapter

2. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Economic Gender Gaps

2.1 Labour Market Scarring

2.2 The Double Shift in The Pandemic Era

2.3 Conclusions Chapter

3. Gender Gaps in Jobs of Tomorrow

3.1 Switching into the Jobs of Tomorrow

3.2 Conclusions

4. Shaping a Gender-Equal Recovery.

Appendix A Regional Classifications
Appendix B The Global Gender Gap Index Methodology and Technical Notes
Section A Computation and Composition of the Global Gender Gap Index
Section B Indicators Definitions and Sources
User’s Guide How to Read the Country Profiles

Country Profiles

Our approach will be to study the over all conclusions on the world at large on various parameters as explained above and also to study in depth, the Indian scene to learn where we stand, what are the pitfalls of the data quoted and where to go for our nation to upgrade our standing and to project a more realistic position. Since I have given adequate credit to the above report, I may quote them for our discussion since at times, my narration is no match to the brilliance of the world class writers.

Obviously, my observations conclude this article.

  • The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance to parity (i.e., the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed).
  • The 15th edition, the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, comes out a little over one year after COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. Preliminary evidence suggests that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed.
  • Most of us are aware that all over the Southern India and some other parts of India, women get up early in the morning, organize their works like selling flowers, fruits or daily usable items from the main mandi and start their works for a few hours. With the introduction of alcoholics, many of these women have been affected due to drunken behavior of their husbands who in reality contribute little towards their family income. These self- employed women contribute extensively towards the business of the areas who got affected by COVID 19. The free distribution of food, cash or essential items for family by various progressive state/central government stand witness to this development.
  • Globally, the average distance completed to parity is at 68%, a step back compared to 2020 (-0.6 percentage points). On its current trajectory, it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide.
  • The gender gap in Political Empowerment remains the largest of the four gaps tracked, with only 22% closed to date, having further widened since the 2020 edition of the report by 2.4 percentage points. Across the 156 countries covered by the index, women represent only 26.1% of some 35,500 parliament seats and just 22.6% of over 3,400 ministers worldwide. In 81 countries, there has never been a woman head of state, as of 15th January 2021.
  • What does the above statement mean to us? It will take 145.5 years to attain gender parity in politics. With the Vice President being a lady, the Prime Minister of New Zealand again a lady and all elected democratically against men, this prophesy may not come true and the gender parity among men and women may come much sooner.
  • Globally, since the previous edition of the report, there are more women in parliaments, and two countries have elected their first female prime minister (Togo in 2020 and Belgium in 2019).
  • In India itself, the present prime minister has given a large number of representations to women in the recent cabinet recast.
  • Then about economic participation and opportunity. The gender gap in Economic Participation and Opportunity remains the second-largest of the four key gaps tracked by the index. According to this year’s index results 58% of this gap has been closed so far. The gap has seen marginal improvement since the 2020 edition of the report and as a result we estimate that it will take another 267.6 years to close.
  • Gender gaps in Educational Attainment and Health and Survival are nearly closed. In Educational Attainment, 95% of this gender gap has been closed globally, with 37 countries already at parity. However, the ‘last mile’ of progress is proceeding slowly. The index estimates that on its current trajectory, it will take another 14.2 years to completely close this gap.
  • Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th time. The top 10 includes: 1 Iceland 89.2% 2 Finland 86.1% 3 Norway 84.9% 4 New Zealand 84.0% 5 Sweden 82.3% 6 Namibia 80.9% 7 Rwanda 80.5% 8 Lithuania 80.4% 9 Ireland 80.0% 10 Switzerland 79.8%. The above details remain first the rank, the second one name and third gender gap closed to date.
  • Who are the most improved countries? The five most-improved countries in the overall index this year are Lithuania, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Togo and United Arab Emirates, having narrowed their gender gaps by at least 4.4 percentage points or more. Timor-Leste and Togo are also among the four countries (including Côte d’Ivoire and Jordan) that have managed to close their Economic Participation and Opportunity gap by at least 1 full percentage point in one year.
  • Three new countries have been assessed this year for the first time: Afghanistan (44.4% of the gender gap closed so far, 156th), Guyana (72.8%, 53rd) and Niger (62.9%, 138th).

Now about India

Statistical information from the index about India will help us to continue our discussion.

2006 score 2021 score
Global Gender Gap Index 98 0.601 140 0.625
Economic participation and opportunity 110 0.397 151 0.326
Educational attainment 102 0.819 114 0.962
Health and survival 103 0.962 155 0.937
Political empowerment 20 0.227 51 0.276
  • Some information was not taken from India in arriving at above calculations for which I have given some more information later and discuss in the article.
  • India’s score card index is given under various heads.
  • Economic participation and opportunity   151, Labor force participation rate % 148, Wage equality for similar work, 1-7 (best) 135, Estimated earned income, int’l $ 1,000 148, Legislators, senior officials and managers, % 140, Professional and technical workers, % 136, Literacy rate, % 129, Health and survival 155, Political empowerment 51.
  • Among the drivers of this decline is a decrease in women’s labor force participation rate, which fell from 24.8% to 22.3%. In addition, the share of women in professional and technical roles declined further to 29.2%. The share of women in senior and managerial positions also remains low: only 14.6% of these positions are held by women and there are only 8.9% of firms with female top managers. Further, women’s estimated earned income is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts India among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator.
  • Advancement of women to leadership roles, 1-7 (best) 3.37, Gender parity in tech roles, 1-7 (best)- 4.31, Boards of listed companies, % board members 15.90 (women) 84.10 (men) 0.19, value, Firms with female majority ownership, % firms 10.70 (w) 89.30(m) 0.12 value, Firms with female top managers, % firms 8.90 w, 91.10 m, 0.10 value, Share of workers in informal sector, % workers 88.50 (w) 87.90 (m) 0.99 value. We have to really work hard to improve our position which is really at bottom of the index.


Under the heads Civil and political freedom, information pertaining to Year women received right to vote, Election list quotas for women, national, Party membership quotas, voluntary, right to equal justice, and right to travel outside the country show information as not available. We as Indians know that our women carry as much right as men to vote and voting % in many elections cast by women carry a better one as compared to men.

Equally laughable is the information that women right to travel outside the country is zero which is ridiculous since largest number of women from India travel abroad now than ever in our history.

The obvious reason for gross mistake in reporting may be due to lack of efforts by the concerned authorities of World Forum to collect the required information from Indian government.

Overall, the index gives some information which is an indicator of some compilation of information though no sincere effort seems to have been taken to arrive at some conclusion. However, whatever presented is not very promising and India can not be allowed to be at the bottom of the index of 156 countries. If we take all matters seriously, with the boys and girls showing equal talents to scale new heights in all speres, our ranking must be among the top 10 among nations.

It is for the concerned authorities to read the whole report, look out where we missed to give correct information and ensure that the next index would enhance our position. Wherever we need improvement efforts have to be put in to show the required results.


Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc. before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that Author/TaxGuru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

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May 2024