It is unhealthy to be a woman in India

The 2018 Global Gender Gap report ranks India at a dismal 108 out of 149 countries; and in the South Asian region, India ranks fourth

By Kiran Pandey, Rajit Sengupta
Published: Wednesday 19 December 2018

The recent Assembly elections highlighted the role of aware women electorates in the country. Yet, the country ranks at a dismal 108 out of the 149 countries included in the 2018 Global Gender Gap report, released at the World Economic Forum. Even within the South Asian region, which is the second lowest scoring region, with a remaining gender gap of 34.2 per cent, India ranks fourth, well behind Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Gender gap was measured across four key pillars—economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and survival.

In fact, health of women in India is low on our priority, highlights the report that ranks us as the third-lowest in the world on health and survival, which was drawn by looking at the basic health parameters such as sex ratio, malnutrition, life expectancy among others.

The report also highlights the economic disparity within the genders in India when it says that women in India do the bulk (five times higher than men) of unpaid tasks, including housework and household care. It, however, says the country has made some progress in closing its tertiary education gender gap, and kept the primary and secondary education gaps closed for the third year running.

The poor situation in the country can be best understood by the fact that women’s equality is skewed even globally, and yet India fares so low in the rankings. “At the current rate of change, the global gender gap will take 108 years to close; economic gender parity remains 202 years off,” the report says.

Iceland is the most gender equal nation holding the top spot in the Index for the 10th consecutive year. It is followed by Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Finland.

A recent report highlighted that in 56 years, India’s Lok Sabha has not been able to double its tally of elected women representatives. And despite women voting in record numbers, Parliament didn’t enact the Women’s Reservation Bill that promised to keep aside a third of seats in assemblies and Lok Sabha for them. 

Earlier, a UNDP report on gender and disaster risk reduction had flagged that women and children are 14 times more likely than men to die during a disaster. It stressed on the fact that there is a direct correlation between women’s vulnerability during disasters and their socio-economic status.

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