The new data of Gender Inequality Index (GII) by UN Development Program demonstrates that India‘s endless gender inequality statistics worsened between 2008 and 2011, and the country now ranks 129 out of 146 countries on the GII, better only to Afghanistan in South Asia. Indiaranks 134 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI), experiencing a 30 percent drop in its human development values. In comparison, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan ranked better at 112, 113 and 115 positions respectively.
The Gender Inequality Index measures female disadvantages in four dimensions such as reproductive health as measured by maternal mortality ratio and adolescent fertility rate, empowerment measured by seats in Parliament, secondary education ratio, and the labour force participation rate.
The nation’s decline is witnessed in the fall in female labor force participation rate and worsening adolescent fertility rate. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh argued that a decline in female labor force participation could indicate improved status for women or better education opportunities. But, the UNDP report demonstrates that the proportion of women with at least secondary education is still just half that of men. The prosperous countries of the world with higher human development have higher female labor force participation.
Further, the report reveals that Sri Lanka has overtaken China with an HDI of 0.691 on human development and, is now within touching distance of the “high human development” category. Sri Lanka accomplishes well, particularly on gender equality indicators; its maternal mortality ratio is the same as Russia’s. Speaking to Times of India, Jairam Ramesh said, “Economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition for human development. Recent data shows that high growth states like Gujarat have worse human development measures, particularly on malnutrition, than many of the northern states.” Jairam praised the role of non-government players, including Anna Hazare, in bringing about a change in sanitation.
The 2011 report also states that in 2050 the average HDI could drop by 12 percent in south Asia due to the effects of global warming on agricultural production, scarcity of clean water and pollution. While expressing his view that the “real drivers of unsustainability are the developed countries and worst of all the U.S., which won’t even engage with this debate,” Jairam said that just as consumption-heavy lifestyles in the industrialized world affected livelihoods in the developing world, “lifestyles within India also affect the livelihoods of the poor within India.”
- Indian poverty levels higher than Pakistan’s, says UN report (telegraph.co.uk)
- UN: failure to reduce environmental risks will set back human development (guardian.co.uk)
- Human Development Indicators Now Accessible Online Through Google Public Data Explorer (prweb.com)