World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021

Context: India has fallen 28 spots to rank 140th among 156 countries on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. In 2020, India had ranked 112th among 153 countries on the index.

 Global Gender Gap Report 2021

  • The index benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps among four key dimensions – 
  • Economic Participation and Opportunity, 
  • Educational Attainment, 
  • Health and Survival, and 
  • Political Empowerment – and tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time.
    • The index has benchmarked 156 nations across the globe in 2021. 
    • Notably, it measures gender-based gaps in access to resources and opportunities in countries, rather than the actual levels of the available resources and opportunities.  
  • The gap is the widest on the political empowerment dimension with economic participation and opportunity being next in line. 
  • However, the gap on educational attainment and health and survival has been practically bridged.
  • The data shows that the pandemic has impacted women more severely than men.
  • The index measures the level of gender parity achieved in a country. 
  • The higher a country’s score, the closer the country is towards attaining complete gender parity. 
  • For instance, India’s score of 0.625 indicates that the country has achieved 62.5% gender parity. 
  • Among the dimensions used to measure gender parity, India had its lowest ranking in terms of health and survival.

How has India fared this year?

  • The economic participation and opportunity gap saw a decline of 3% compared to 2020.
  • The report said that India had so far closed 62.5% of its gender gap. 
  • The country is now 37.5% short of an ideal situation of equality, by its index, a wider gap than reported last year, when we had a 33.2% deficit on the whole. 
  • The gender gap in India has widened to 62.5%, largely due to women’s inadequate representation in politics, technical and leadership roles, decrease in women’s labour force participation rate, poor healthcare, lagging female to male literacy ratio, income inequality. 
  • The report states that India fared the worst in political empowerment, regressing from 23.9% to 9.1%.  
  • “The main change that took place this year is the significant decline in the share of women among ministers, which halved, from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021,” the report added. 
  • “In addition, the share of women in parliament remains stagnant at 14.4%.”
  • The Global Gender Gap Report added that reduction in women’s labour force participation rate was another reason for the drop in India’s rank
  • “In addition, the share of women in professional and technical roles declined further to 29.2%,” the report said. 
  • “The share of women in senior and managerial positions also remains low.”
  • The report also said that the estimated earned income of women in India was one-fifth of men’s, which put India among the bottom 10 countries globally on that indicator. 
  • Its ranking on the health and survival dimension is among the five worst performers. 
  • The report showed that though India had closed 96.2% of the Educational Attainment sub-index gender gap, certain gaps existed in terms of literacy. 
  • “One third of women are illiterate (34.2%) compared to 17.6% of men,” it added.
  • The report showed that South Asia was the lowest performer on the index after West Asia and North Africa.
  • India is the third-worst performer among South Asian countries, after Afghanistan and Pakistan and Bangladesh being at the top. 
  • The World Economic Forum’s report showed that in South Asia, only Bhutan and Nepal had shown progress towards gender parity in 2021.
  • Globally, Iceland, Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden are the world’s most gender-equal countries, the report added.

Which are the top-performing countries?

  • The most gender equal country in the world is Iceland, and it has been in the first position for 12 years. Finland is second and Norway third, with New Zealand being a close fourth, followed by Sweden. 
  • Lithuania, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Togo and the United Arab Emirates have improved the most in the overall index.

Major reports published by the WEF

  • Global Competitiveness Report, 
  • Global Risks Report,
  • Global Gender Gap Report, 
  • Global Social Mobility Report, 
  • Regional Risks for Doing Business Report, 
  • Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, 
  • Fostering Effective Energy Transition Report.


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