India’s gender inequality is one of South Asia’s largest, says watchdog organization

In terms of gender equity India is in critical condition. The South Asian giant is below the already dim regional average, and its only neighbour presenting a wider gender gap is Pakistan, one of the countries in worse gender situation in the entire world.

This is made apparent by the publication of the Gender Equity Index (GEI) 2012, published by Social Watch on the eve of Women’s International Day, March 8.

The index prepared annually by Social Watch measures the gap between women and men in education, the economy and political empowerment. The index is an average of the inequalities in the three dimensions. In literacy, it examines the gender gap in enrolment at all levels; economic participation computes the gaps in income and employment; empowerment measures the gaps in highly qualified jobs, parliament and senior executive positions.

The best and worst 15 countries in the GEI 2012

Social Watch measures the gap between women and men, not their wellbeing. Thus, a country in which young men and women have equal access to the university receives a value of 100 on this particular indicator. In the same fashion, a country in which boys and girls are equally barred from completing primary education would also be awarded a value of 100. This does not mean that the quality of education in both cases is the same. It just establishes that, in both cases girls are not less educated than boys.

India’s 37 points rank it among those countries with CRITICAL GEI, and two points below the South Asian average, which stands at 39. All of its neighbours, with one exception, are in better situation: Thailand (71), China (64), the Maldives (63), Indonesia and Sri Lanka (both with 62), Bangladesh (55), Nepal (47), Bhutan (41). Pakistan, with 29 points, is the only country sharing borders with India in a worse condition in terms of gender equity.

South Asia is led by Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (55). The countries in worst condition in that region are India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan (with 15 points), which is also the nation in worst situation among the 154 computed by the GEI. South Asian GEI average is the lowest of all regions.

The five levels according to which the index measures the gender gap are: CRITICAL, VERY LOW, LOW, MEDIUM AND ACCEPTABLE. It should be noted that no country has reached 90 points or more, meaning that no country has yet reached the ACCEPTABLE level.

India reaches a LOW value in education (66 points), and a CRITICAL value both in economic participation and empowerment (33 and 12 respectively).

At a world level, the countries that have achieved a better score are Norway (89), Finland (88), and Iceland (87), which places them as countries with a MEDIUM GEI. 

Out of the 154 countries computed by the 2012 GEI those five in the worst global situation are Congo Rep (29), Niger (26), Tchad (25), Yemen (24) and Afghanistan (15).

Social Watch members are spread across all regions. The network fights for the eradication of poverty and its causes, the elimination of all forms of discrimination and racism and to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth and the realization of human rights.

For a detailed description of methodology and sources see