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India Slips to 129 on Global Gender Gap Index, Absolute Parity 134 Years Away

The decline from last year's 127th place is attributed to regression in the 'educational attainment' and 'political empowerment' parameters.
Graffiti on women's equality. Photo: Paul Simpson/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

New Delhi: India has fallen two places to 129th position on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap index, as per the latest rankings published on Tuesday (June 11). Iceland, which has ranked number one on the index for a decade, maintained its top position this year as well.

Within South Asia, India ranks fifth, trailing behind Bangladesh (99), Nepal (111), Sri Lanka (125), and Bhutan (124). Pakistan is at the bottom of the regional rankings and is placed 145th globally, just ahead of Sudan, which holds the last position among 146 countries.

According to the report, India is among the economies with the lowest levels of economic parity, registering less than 30% gender parity in estimated earned income. These include: Bangladesh, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, and Morocco. The level of parity in labour force participation rate is under 50% in these countries. 

India has closed 64.1% of its gender gap in 2024, the WEF report said. The decline from last year’s 127th place is attributed to slight decreases in the ‘educational attainment’ and ‘political empowerment’ parameters. The WEF noted that India’s economic parity score has been on an upward trend for the past four years.

While India ranked one on gender parity in terms of secondary education enrolment, it ranked 105th in tertiary enrolment, 124th on literacy rate and 89th in primary education enrolment. This led to a sharp drop from 26th to 112th in the educational attainment subindex. 

In the political empowerment subindex, India performed well on the head-of-state indicator but scored relatively low in women’s representation at the federal level, with only 6.9% in ministerial positions and 17.2% in parliament. It ranked 65th on political empowerment of women and 10th on parity in the number of years with female/male heads of state over the last 50 years.

In the economic parity and opportunity subindex, India ranked 142nd, same as 2023, maintaining its position as one of the lowest globally. It ranked 134th on labour-force participation rate and 120th on wage equality for similar work, indicating  substantial disparities in earnings between men and women.

India maintained its position at 142nd on the health and survival index.

Globally, the WEF report states that 68.5% of the gender gap has been closed, but at the current pace, achieving full gender parity will take 134 years, equivalent to five generations. Since last year, the global gender gap has closed by a mere 0.1 percentage points.

In the global rankings, Iceland is followed by Finland, Norway, New Zealand, and Sweden in the top five. The United Kingdom holds the 14th position, while the United States is ranked 43rd.

“Despite some bright spots, the slow and incremental gains highlighted in this year’s Global Gender Gap Report underscore the urgent need for a renewed global commitment to achieving gender parity, particularly in economic and political spheres,” WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi. “We cannot wait until 2158 for parity. The time for decisive action is now,” she added.

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