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What women empowerment? India's 53rd
BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi | May 17, 2005 11:53 IST
Last Updated: May 17, 2005 12:04 IST
In its first ever gender gap study covering 58 nations, the World Economic Forum has ranked India a lowly 53.
Titled 'The Women's Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap', a WEF report measures the gap between women and men in five critical areas like economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, access to education and access to reproductive health care.
The report is based on United Nations Development Fund for Women's findings on global patterns of inequality between men and women.
The report says large, populous nations such as India, Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt hold some of the lowest positions in the rankings. "Their rankings reflect large disparities between men and women in all five areas of the index," it says.
At the same time, the report cites political empowerment of women in India as a key development, which augured well for the future. India is ranked 24th in terms of women's empowerment in politics, both at the parliamentary and grassroots level.
The study puts Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland at the top of the list as countries with the smallest gender gap.
Characterised by strong liberal societies, with an impressive record of openness and transparency in government, and comprehensive safety nets that provide security to vulnerable groups in the population, women in these countries have access to a wider spectrum of educational, political and work opportunities and enjoy a higher standard of living than women in other parts of the world, according to the study.
"While no country has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap, the Nordic countries have succeeded best in narrowing it and, in a very clear sense, provide a workable model for the rest of the world," the report adds.
About China, it says with a ranking of 33, the Chinese government's gender equality objective falls far short of expectations.
Nonetheless, China remains the highest ranking nation in Asia, followed by Japan at 38.
According to WEF, it had undertaken the study in order to facilitate the work of governments, aid agencies and NGOs by providing a benchmark to assess the size of the gender gap, ranking these countries according to the level of advancement of their female population and identifying successes and failures based on economic, political, educational and health-based criteria.
"Our aim is essentially to allow countries to identify their strengths and weaknesses in an area of critical importance for the development process and to provide opportunities for countries to learn from the experiences of others that have been more successful in promoting the equality of women and men," says Augusto Lopez-Carlos, chief economist and director of Global Competitiveness Programme, WEF.
The European Union countries have done generally well in the rankings, with 10 EU members present in the top 15. Setting aside the three Nordic countries, which are also EU members (Sweden, Denmark and Finland), the UK (8) and Germany (9) lead the way.
The US, placed at 17, follows many western European nations and falls behind New Zealand (6), Canada (7) and Australia (10).