How much are we investing in Gender Equality?

How much are we investing in Gender Equality?

Published on :- March 1st, 2024

Invest in women: Accelerate progress

International Women’s Day is a global event celebrating women’s achievements and advocating for equality. Observed on March 8th every year, this year's theme, ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’, focuses on inspiring and empowering women to accelerate progress and achieve gender equality.

The main aim of SDG 5 (Sustainable Development Goal) is to Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

India aims to achieve this through:
  • Equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life for women.
  • Ending all forms of violence, trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls.
  • Recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work.
As per the UN’s Sustainable Development Report 2023, with a score of 46.25, India is ranked 134th on SDG 5. While the trends show improvements, significant challenges remain.

India SDG 5 Score and Rank

Equality in education is one of the driving factors to close the gender gap. Over the last seven decades, India’s literacy rate has been improving, and the gender gap has been closing. In 2020 (as per the NFHS 5 survey), literacy among females was ~13 points lower than in males.

Gender Parity Index (GPI) of the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at various education levels reflects the equitable participation of girls in the school system. Significant improvement has been made at the higher secondary level (Grade XI - XII), thus closing the gender gap at the school level.

Gender Parity Index in India

Even though the GPI reflects equitable participation at school and college levels, the labour force participation and unemployment rate among women is an area of concern.

The unemployment rate among females with the education levels of Diploma/Certificate Course, Graduates and Post Graduates was found to be very high compared to that of males. Among the graduates and post-graduates, the unemployment rate in females is double that of males.

Unemployment rate in India

The World Economic Forum publishes an annual report on the Global Gender Gap. The Global Gender Gap Index examines the gap between men and women in four fundamental categories including Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment.

Global Gender Gap Rank

Though India had progressed towards closing the gender gap between 2006 and 2016, it has regressed steeply, falling 40 ranks below in just 6 years. As per the Global Gender Gap report (2023), India is ranked 127 out of 146 countries - highlighting substantial inequality between men and women.

One of India's key goals for SDG 5 is to provide equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life for women.

Married women in India taking household decisions

The share of women who usually participate in at least three household decisions has doubled in the last 15 years. More than 80% of women in all the states of India participate in at least three household decisions. Among the states, lower participation is in the states/UTs for Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh (80-81%)

An area hindering women’s progress is the area of ‘Crime against women’. As per the latest NFHS survey (2019-21), spousal violence experienced by married women has slightly increased in both rural and urban areas since the last survey (2015-16).

Women experiencing spousal violence in India

Overall, spousal violence has decreased by 11% in the last 15 years. Yet, one in three women still face spousal or domestic abuse. In five states, close to 40% of married women have experienced spousal violence.

In terms of the general health of women, along with an overall increase in obesity, we also see an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Urban women have higher blood pressure and blood sugar levels than women in rural areas. Further, more than half of women in India are anaemic. With the prevalence of anaemia as high as 1 in every 2 women, malnutrition is a chronic problem in India and needs immediate interventions.

On the political front, women’s representation in the lower house of the parliament has been less than 10% for almost six decades 1951-2004.

Share of women in lok sabha in India

In 2019, women representatives were elected in 78 constituencies, thus bringing the representation of women to an all-time high of 14.4% of the total seats in Lok Sabha.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development receives approximately 0.6% of India’s annual budget to fund its various initiatives. India Inc., in the last eight years (2014-22) has spent over 2.5 thousand crores (1.6% of the total) in CSR towards women-related programmes such as Women Empowerment, Gender Equality and Setting up Homes and Hostels for Women.

Over the last decade, India has made considerable progress in closing the gender gap in education. However, disparities persist across women’s health, nutrition, employment, empowerment, and economic independence, thus impeding progress. How much will change over the next few years? When will India reach gender equality? Many questions remain unanswered.

For more insights on the gender gap in India, explore our latest SDG 5 datashots.

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