In a world still affected by gender-based discrimination, equality has become a univocal demand. While things may have improved marginally, there is a long way to go. However, there is a silver lining. Last year, the World Economic Forum reported that it would take us 108 years to close the gender gap across the world
This year, it reported that it would take us 99.5 years – lesser than before, but not less enough. The bad news is that India ranked at 112 out of 153 countries, four positions down since last year.
“It still means parity between men and women across health, education, work, and politics will take more than a lifetime to achieve,” states the report titled Global Gender Gap 2020.
Throwing light on the precarious state of women in India, the study revealed that India is the only country where the economic gender gap is larger than the political gender gap.
One year ago, it was calculated that it would take 108 years to close the global gender gap. How long do you think it will take now? Read the World Economic Forum's full Global Gender Gap Report here: https://t.co/YtGeseIGMY #gendergap20 pic.twitter.com/TvT4zxFmFq
— World Economic Forum (@wef) December 17, 2019
Witnessing a particularly deep economic gap between the two genders, it is estimated that female earned income is one-fifth of male income – among the world’s lowest at 144.
India performs equally badly in terms of participation rates in the labour market at 145 out of 153 countries. Only 25 percent of women are working or looking for work against 82 percent of men.
At the same time, trends reveal that women have an increased access to education. “From primary to tertiary education, the share of women attending school is systematically larger than the share of men,” states the report.
Consequently, female literacy has gone up, recording 66 percent of the literate female population.
The Role Model Effect
Globally, the 8.5 years of coming closer to gender parity are credited to greater participation of women in politics across the world. In India too, political empowerment fares better and ahead of most countries at 18th rank, boosted by the fact that India, in the last 50 years, was headed by a woman for 20 years.
However, the ground reality is quite bleak. Women make up only 14.4 percent of the Parliament and 23 percent of the Cabinet. One key highlight, as noted by Saadia Zahidi, the Managing Director of World Economic Forum, is the rise of the role model effect that may have developed to create large impacts in empowering women to consider leadership roles and increase their participation in general.
In short, encouraging through representation matters and translates to positive social changes on ground. Case in point, the top ten countries where improvements in political representation occurred simultaneously with improvements in women in senior roles in the labour market between 2006 and 2019.
Here are three practical ways to further the scope of gender parity.
Encourage female education: Focus on educating and skilling women, especially in the emerging roles and professions to fight the under-representation. Globally, in the most sought-after field of cloud computing, engineering, and data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), women make up only 12, 15 and 26 percent of the workforce respectively.
By skilling women and making them ready for the world of future jobs, the country will be pushing economic growth. This will also build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Equal pay for equal work: A survey conducted by Monster Salary Index earlier this year revealed that men are paid 19 percent more than their female counterparts at the workplace. Such discrimination, based on gender, in the Hindi film industry to unorganised sectors like agricultural labour discourages women to perform their best in the economy.
Women in India get 34% less wages than their male counterparts for the same work. (Oxfam Inequality Report, India Supplement, 2019)
Women workers demand Equal Pay For Equal Work! #WomenStrikeOnWomensDay
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) March 7, 2019
It is high time that policymakers and employers ensure equal pay for equal work, irrespective of gender.
Build a safe environment: India is poorly reputed as the most unsafe country for women. Cases of gender-based violence against women hamper a level-playing field, economically and socially. This hurdle tends to hold them back from participating in the economic workforce.
In fact, a woman’s safety becomes the first concern for their family members when considering job opportunities. To do that, creating a safe and secure environment will go a long way in positively impacting a woman’s professional aspirations.