Women in India hold just 11.6% of the parliamentary seats, and only 39% of the adult women have reached to a secondary level of education compared with 64% of males. As per the current rate of progress, it would take another 200 years to close the economic gender gap across the world.
Despite India moving a notch up in the latest Human Development Index (HDI) to rank 130 out of 189 countries and showing rapid progress in poverty eradication, inequality remains one of the pressing issues in the country as there is a decrease of 26.8% in the HDI value when adjusted for inequality. The change is the value of India’s Inequality-adjusted HDI, which stood at 0.468, is far worse than the global average decline in the global HDI due to inequality at 20%.
According to the latest report released by the United Nations Development Programme, India made quite good progress with its HDI value rising to 0.640, up about 50% from 0.427 in 1990, which indicates that millions have been lifted out of poverty in the country. The rank also put India in the medium human development category.
HDI is the composite measure of three key dimensions of every country namely, standard of living, health and education. The report, which covered human development progress from 1990 to 2017, suggests that the global HDI levels improved 22% showing a positive sign that on an average, people across the world are living longer, earning good income and are far more educated than in 1990.
Though the development schemes in the country such as ‘Swach Bharat’ and ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ for healthcare and education have helped minimising the gender gap and boost HDI, inequalities and gender gap continues to persist, the report showed.
In the last two and half decades, HDI of India has risen at a fast pace but inequality is one of the reasons that are dragging the HDI down, UNDP India’s country director Francine Pickup told The Indian Express, adding that gender inequality is another major issue that is affecting human development and this is mainly on account of very low participation of women in India.
During the period (1990 to 2017), life expectancy at birth went up by around 11 years in India. Also, there was a significant increase in expected years of schooling as Indian school-age children stayed in school for 4.7 years longer than in 1990.
Despite the government’s efforts to reduce gender gap, women in the country remain economically, politically and socially less empowered than men. As per the report, women hold just 11.6% of the parliamentary seats, and only 39% of the adult women have reached to a secondary level of education compared with 64% of males. On the other side, female participation in labour market is also 27.2% as against 78.8% for men.
The report said that the the average HDI for women across the world is about 6% lower than that of men, with countries in the low development category suffering the widest gaps. As per the current rate of progress, it would take another 200 years to close the economic gender gap across the world.
Out of the 189 countries for which the HDI is calculated, the top ten nations are all European – Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, Germany and Iceland, while countries with lowest ranks were all Africans, including South Sudan, Burundi and Chad, among others.