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India ranked at 115 on women empowerment scale: Survey

October 16, 2012 17:04 IST

India has been ranked at a poor 115 by a global survey, which looked into the level of economical empowerment of women in 128 countries.

The list was topped by Australia and followed by three Scandinavian countries - Norway, Sweden and Finland.

At the bottom of the list were Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan and Chad.

The research done by an international consulting and management firm Booz & Company ranked India at 115 and noted that with the second-largest population in the world, India generates 14 per cent of the global talent pool, among which are the 5.5 million women entering India's workforce each year, all overwhelmingly driven to succeed.

"Yet India's women - whether in Mumbai's conference rooms or Kerala's backwaters - must navigate a familiar but daunting set of obstacles and challenges in their search for economic empowerment and professional success," it said.

It added that although the knowledge economy has created enormous opportunities in India, too many women are still prevented from reaching their full potential by a combination of cultural restrictions, gender discrimination, and lack of resources.

"The country has anti-discrimination legislation in place designed to protect women, yet implementation has a long way to go. Each year, approximately 1,000 'honour killings' are perpetrated against Indian women.

"Along with female feticide and infanticide, acid attacks, rape, and sexual harassment, honour killings are both the symptoms of and catalysts for women's disempowerment.

"Forty-five percent of women believe that they're treated unfairly at work because of their gender; many others struggle to rejoin the workforce after giving birth. More than 50 percent of women report safety concerns related to commuting," the scathing report said.

It underlined that if India is to sustain its rate of growth, it will have to break down these sizable barriers to women's empowerment - both in the private-sector workforce and in the entrepreneurial landscape.

Across the globe, the survey found up to one billion women will enter the  world's workforce over the next decade.

The report named 'Third Billion Index' has observed that while the burgeoning populations of India and China have been given much attention by the  media, less has been paid to the one billion women who will soon enter the world's workforce.

The report is based on the country's performance in terms of primary, secondary and tertiary education, equal pay for equal work, non-discrimination policies, access to childcare, property ownership rights and  ability to access credit.

It also looks at whether wages are equal, the number of women in work  compared with men, and whether there is equality in the number of female  managers, senior business leaders and politicians.

Natasha Chaku in Melbourne
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