India is simply not doing enough for its women. The country has fallen from 112 out of 134 countries in 2010 to 113 out of 135 countries in 2011 according to the Gender Gap Index 2011 released by the World Economic forum (WEF) on Wednesday.

Over the last six years, while 85 percent of countries are improving their gender equality ratios, the rest of the world the situation is declining, most notably in several African and South American countries. The sixth annual World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2011 shows a slight decline over the last year in gender equality rankings for New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom this year, while gains are made in Brazil, Ethiopia, Qatar, Tanzania and Turkey.

Members of a women's self-help in Madhya Pradesh. Photo: mckaysavage (Flickr 3.0)

Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) continue to hold top spots having closed over 80 percent of their gender gaps, while countries at the bottom of the rankings still need to close as much as 50 percent. The figure for India stands at 61.9 percent.

India’s ranking has been falling steadily since 2006 when the Index was launched. In 2006, India was ranked 98th. Between 2007 and 2011, the ranking has swayed between 112 and 114.

India fares worst in terms of economic participation of women. India ranked 131 with a percentage of 39.6 – fifth from bottom. Though India scored well in political participation of women with a rank of 19, the percentage was abysmal: 31.2 per cent. India is doing relatively well in absolute terms on the educational attainment and health & survival fronts, but in terms of rankings it is way behind others. India is ranked 121st (83.7 percent) in the former, and 134th (93.1 percent) for the latter.

The Global Gender Gap Report’s index assesses 135 countries, representing more than 93% of the world’s population, on how well resources and opportunities are divided amongst male and female populations. The report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:

  • Economic participation and opportunity –salaries, participation and highly-skilled employment
  • Education – access to basic and higher level education
  • Political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures
  • Health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio

The Philippines (8) remain the highest-ranking Asian country, primarily due to success in health and education. Thailand (60), which this year elected its first woman Prime Minister, remains well positioned with women making up more than half of tertiary education enrolled and high overall labour force participation. While China remains the third-last ranking country on the health and survival sub index (133) due to a skewed sex ratio at birth, its strength lies in high female labour force participation (74%). India (113), the Islamic Republic of Iran (125), Nepal (126) and Pakistan (133) occupy the last places in the regional rankings.

India is the lowest-ranked of the BRIC economies featured in the index.