India slipped 28 places and has ranked 140th among 156 countries on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2021. The country is the third-worst performer in South Asia after Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The World Economic Forum took into consideration four key aspects— Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment to measure the global disparity between men and women.
"Home to 0.65 billion women, India has widened its gender gap from almost 66.8% closed one year ago to 62.5% this year," the report said.
A lack of progress on women's participation in the labour force was found to hinder the availability of economic opportunities. It reported that a mere 22.3 per cent of women were active in the labour market; 29.2 per cent of technical roles were held by women and there were only 8.9 per cent firms with female top managers in India.
It also pointed out that only 14.6 per cent of women had been found to have taken up senior-level roles. Most of the decline was seen on the Political Empowerment sub-index where India went back 13.5 percentage points.
"The main change that took place this year is the significant decline in the share of women among ministers, which halved, from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021," the report added. "In addition, the share of women in parliament remains stagnant at 14.4% and the share of the last 50 years in which a woman has been head of state is 15.5%."
The report also highlighted that the estimated earned income of women in India was one-fifth of men's, which placed India among the bottom 10 countries globally on that indicator.
"Discrimination against women is also reflected in Health and Survival sub-index statistics," the report added. "With 93.7% of this gap closed to date, India ranks among the bottom five countries in this sub-index. Wide sex ratio at birth gaps is due to the high incidence of gender-based sex-selective practices."
India had closed 96.2% of the Educational Attainment sub-index gender gap. Meanwhile, certain gaps existed in terms of literacy. "One-third of women are illiterate (34.2%) compared to 17.6% of men," it added.