India ranked low at 135th place in terms of gender parity: Basics Explained

As per the annual Gender Gap Report 2022 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) released in Geneva India was ranked low at 135th place in terms of gender parity, despite an improvement of five places since last year on better performance in areas of economic participation and opportunity. The index takes into account four sub-indices—economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival.

Iceland retained its place as the world’s most gender-equal country, followed by Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden.

Only 11 countries are ranked below India on the index of 146 nations, with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Iran and Chad being the worst-five.

The WEF warned that the cost of living crisis is expected to hit women hardest globally with a widening gender gap in the labour force and it will take another 132 years (compared to 136 in 2021) to close the gender gap.

Recovering ground since 2021, India registered the most significant and positive change to its performance on Economic Participation and Opportunity. But, labour-force participation shrunk for both men and women since 2021.

The share of women legislators, senior officials and managers increased from 14.6 per cent to 17.6 per cent, and the share of women as professional and technical workers grew from 29.2 per cent to 32.9 per cent.

The gender parity score for estimated earned income improved; while values for both men and women diminished, they declined more for men.

However, in the area of political empowerment, the subindex where India ranks relatively higher at 48th place, showed a declining score due to the diminishing share of years women have served as head of state for the past 50 years.

On the health and survival subindex, India ranked the lowest at 146th place and figured among the five countries with gender gaps larger than 5 per cent — the other four being Qatar, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and China.

However, India was ranked the top globally in terms of gender parity for primary education enrolment and tertiary education enrolment and at the eighth place for the position of head of state.

Within South Asia, India was ranked the sixth best on overall score after Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan. Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan scored worse than India.

South Asia (62.3 per cent) has the largest gender gap of all regions, with low scores across all measured gender gaps and little progress made in most countries since 2021.

At its current pace, it will take 197 years to close the gender gap in the region. The economic gender gap has closed by 1.8 per cent with increases in the share of women in professional and technical roles in countries including Bangladesh and India as well as Nepal.


Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world. The exclusion of women places half of the world’s population outside the realm of opportunity to partner in building prosperous societies and economies.

Women face challenges in form of

the labour force participation rate

the gender pay gap between women and men is unequal

Women also face higher risks with regards to their health. Inadequate and poor nutrition, coupled with a lack of access to primary healthcare are major contributors to India’s high rates of female mortality.

Goal 5 Sustainable Development Goals aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women in the public and private spheres and to undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources and access to ownership of property.

               Although India has achieved gender parity at the primary education level and is on track to achieve parity at all education levels, as of June 2019, the proportion of seats in the Lok Sabha held by women had only reached 11% but 46% in the Panchayati Raj Institutions. India is also confronting the challenge of violence against women. As an example, a baseline study revealed that in New Delhi, 92% of women had experienced some form of sexual violence in public spaces during their lifetime.

The latest NFHS data (2019-2021) show that 57% of women (15-49 age bracket) are anaemic, up from 53% in 2015-16; though 88.7% of married women participate in key household decisions, only 25.4% of women, aged 15-49 years, who worked in the last 12 months (2019-2021), were paid in cash. Women having a bank account or savings account that they themselves use have increased to 78.6%, with schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana helping, but women participation in the labour force has shrunk.


Mahila Shakti Kendra (MSK) aims to empower rural women with opportunities for skill development and employment.

Working Women Hostel (WWH) ensures the safety and security for working women.

Scheme for Adolescent Girls aims to empower girls in the age group 11-18 and to improve their social status through nutrition, life skills, home skills and vocational training

Mahila Police Volunteers (MPV) envisages engagement of Mahila Police Volunteers in States/UTs who act as a link between police and community and facilitates women in distress.

Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) is an apex micro-finance organization that provides micro-credit at concessional terms to poor women for various livelihood and income generating activities.

The National Crèche Scheme ensures that women take up gainful employment through providing a safe, secure and stimulating environment to the children.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandna Yojna aims to provide maternity benefit to pregnant and lactating mothers.

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana aims to provide housing under the name of the woman also.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) aims to enable a large number of Indian youth including women to take up industry-relevant skill training in securing a better livelihood.

Deen Dayal Upadhyay National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) focuses on creating opportunities for women in skill development, leading to market-based employment.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana empowers women and protects their health by providing LPG cylinder free of cost.

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna (SSY) – Under this scheme girls have been economically empowered by opening their bank accounts.

Skill Upgradation & Mahila Coir Yojna is an exclusive training programme of MSME aimed at skill development of women artisans engaged in coir Industry.

Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) – a major credit- linked subsidy programme aimed at generating self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector

Female Entrepreneurship: To promote female entrepreneurship, the Government has initiated Programmes like Stand-Up India and Mahila e-Haat (online marketing platform to support women entrepreneurs/ SHGs/NGOs), Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Programme (ESSDP). Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) provides access to institutional finance to micro/small business.

Gender Budget has been made a part of Union Budget of India since 2005 that entails fund allocation towards programmes/schemes dedicated to women. Through this effort the Government is continuously promoting gender parity/equality with a focus on alleviating gender gap in all sectors and at all levels of governance.

To bring women in the mainstream of political leadership at the grass root level, government has reserved 33% of the seats in Panchayati Raj Institutions for women.


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