The Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum.
The Index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education- and healthbased criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time. The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them. The methodology and quantitative analysis behind the rankings are intended to serve as a basis for designing effective measures for reducing gender gaps.As always, curiosity made me look into the report, to try and understand what I can.
India has been ranked 112 (out of 134 countries).
Also, like many I wondered why India went below Philippines (with rank 9 and highest amongst the Asia and Pacific countries) and also Kuwait (women were given voting rights only recently) and UAE, specially when India has a woman in three of the most important positions, namely Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and currently the Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress and Prathiba Patil the Indian President. Sonia Gandhi was also ranked 13th in the Forbes most powerful women in year 2009, although they have not ranked her this year. But the report has taken into account this factor and hence India ranks 23rd in the political empowerment. Yet, this seems to have made no impact on other crucial areas namely, Literacy Rate, Infant Mortality, Maternal Mortality and even Wage Equality for Similar Work.
Now if you are wondering why this should bother us:
For instance, the United Nations estimates that, only in the Asian region, about $47 billion of yearly output are lost every year from a lack of female participation in labour markets, as reported in United Nations (2007).
Gender discrimination has widespread ramifications and clear economic and social costs. The Asia-Pacific region has made good progress in reducing gender discrimination in recent years, but appalling disparities remain. The region is losing $42-$47 billion per year because of restrictions on women’s access to employment opportunities – and another $16-$30 billion per year because of gender gaps in education. Those are just the economic costs – added to them are social and personal costs.
In some countries, one in every 10 girls dies before reaching the age of one, and one in every 50 women dies during pregnancy and delivery.India and also Philippines falls under the Lower Middle Income Group of countries and this may be one reason why India (with a larger population) lag behind countries like Kuwait and UAE who are grouped under the High Income. Sri Lanka has retained it's position and is doing well despite the turmoil it went through. And these countries are much ahead when it comes to educating their females. And education seems to be the crucial factor. In terms of literacy, India has only 51 females (out of 75 men) while more women than men gets the basic education in Philipines (95 female and 93 men). Even China's literacy rate is excellent 91-97. Sadly Pakistan is ranked the lowest in the Asia and Pacific region and those dollars which came in has not done it any good and for that matter it may go down further if the Taliban get's it's way.
There is also one more interesting fact that I noted; if one assumes that there are smart men and women who are equally good at their jobs, then when lesser women are getting educated, some jobs are being filled up by the not so smart men :) We are aware of some of those women who are doing very good. Indira Nooyi who is ranked 6th in the latest report (Forbes most powerful women) maybe ignored since her field is not India ( situation is not favorable ?) but yet there is still Chanda Kocchar who runs ICICI, India’s second largest bank and she is ranked #92. I am sure she deserves a better rank since this bank seems to be standing up quite well when others elsewhere keep tumbling down occasionally. (103 failures in the period Jan-Jul 2010). Now I am not sure if women are better or worse in jobs, although my blogger friend seems to have an opinion on them. I think it is because they need time to get used to the idea. But there are international companies who have made it a policy to hire 50% of women since it works better for them. PWC is one example.
Klaus Schwab, the chairman of the WEF, said: "Low gender gaps are directly correlated with high economic competitiveness.
"We still need a true gender equality revolution, not only to mobilise a major pool of talent both in terms of volume and quality, but also to create a more compassionate value system within all our institutions."
Many analysis shows that gender inequality in education prevents progress in reducing fertility and child mortality rates, thereby compromising progress in well-being in developing countries.
First, gender inequality in education and access to resources may prevent a reduction of child mortality, of fertility, and an expansion of education of the next generation.
Greater education increases her health knowledge which improves her ability to promote the health of her children (World Bank, 1993), and greater bargaining power increases her say over household resources which often leads to greater allocations to child health and nutrition, compared to their husbands. For example, Thomas (1990) found that the impact of unearned income on child survival was 20 times greater if the income was brought in by the mother than if it was brought in by the father.
And, gender gap can also affect the Total Fertility Rate.
Total fertility rate
The total fertility rate (TFR) is an important determinant of development because the resources available per capita are fundamental to the development process. A high TFR squeezes resources (per capita) within a household, as well as at the national level, diminishing the health and education of children and the wellbeing of families. High fertility leads particularly to poor health and education of women and children, creating
a vicious cycle. A low TFR, however, enables countries to spend more on health and education, leading to improved social welfare.
There is a high correlation between TFR and per capita income, with higher TFR leading to lower incomes figure 3.10). The TFR is also a good indicator of women’s control over their reproductive rights and health, of progress in gender relations, and of education, particularly that of women.
Now, to reduce population some may want to go the Sanjay Gandhi way (though it may have appealed to at least a few if he and his brother had set out an example themselves!). But if educating the female population can indeed bring down the overall population and much more, then it is time India spend more money on this than affairs like CWG's. CWG did give us Indians a high for a few days but I do not think it has done much for the long term.