The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2006 makes for interesting reading. As always one can always contest the weight for certain data, source for the data and the merit in ranking countries without recognizing contextual differences. While it may lack merit by itself, truth is that popular and accessible reports often determine the course of bilateral and multilateral aid. For instance, when multilateral agencies determine country policies, which includes allocation of resources for specific sectors, they will glance at a report like this to decide the slicing of the aid-pie.
India stands at 98 out of 115. I know one can find a lot to bicker about in the methodology. For instance, some of the data fields seem really coloured by perception rather than numbers. Or for that matter, I am not sure how it helps to see if the country’s premier has been a woman in the last fifty years. God knows Indira Gandhi was more of a patriarch than her contemporaries. As always, the disparities within regions in India are so huge, that the data can seem irrelevant for some of the states. The notion of a gender gap on a per country basis is better than having a standard perception of the power though. So while there are some countries where the gender gap might be narrow – could it be because both men and women are not empowered. From the document on gobal trends (pdf file):
Finally, large, highly populated nations such as Bangladesh (91), India (98), Iran (108) and Pakistan (112) hold some of the lowest positions in the Asian rankings. Their rankings reflect large disparities between men and women on all four areas of the index, although, with the exception of Iran, they all display good performances on political empowerment – Bangladesh (17), India (20) and Pakistan (37) – surpassing the United States (66) and Japan (83) on this variable.
On a scale of 0 to 1, the Gender Gap in India scores .601. From the country report on India (pdf file):