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India ranks lower than its poorer South Asian neighbours Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on gender development because of lower life expectancy among women and a wide gap between the incomes of men and women, according to the UN’s annual human development report released on Thursday.
Pakistan is the only country in the region that scored lower than India on the Gender Development Index (GDI) introduced for the first time in the flagship Human Development Report (HDR), which is carefully watched by governments and policy-makers across the world.
The index ranked India 132 out of 148 countries on the gender development index based on average years schooling, life expectancy at birth and gross per capita national income, even lower than poor African countries such as Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The numbers suggest that higher economic growth does not lead to social empowerment of all.
“The indicators show that south Asia lags behind even sub-Saharan Africa ... the countries need to institutionalise mechanisms to ensure that even women get their due,” the report said.
The report found that the per capita income of men in India is about four times higher than that of women while Bangladeshi men earn twice as much as women and men in Nepal are paid about 80% more.
India also scores lower on gender development because of lower education levels of women. Only about one-fourth of women reach high school while more than half of the country’s men make it to the same level. The report found political participation of women in India is also lower than some South Asian countries, with just 10% of parliamentary seats held by women compared with one-fifth in Nepal and Bangladesh.
India’s overall ranking in the index remained unchanged at 135 out of 187 countries.