When I was living in India, more than a decade ago, the discussions regarding gender gap focused on preventing female foeticide, equal educational opportunities for all girls, ending violence against them, and making the communities safer. Economic empowerment of women was also an issue that was discussed as a solution to close the gender gap. When I moved to the US, gender gap was and is still a hot topic but the gender gap that gets the most attention is, in earnings. Another prominent gender gap is the STEM gender gap. I have also recently come across new metrics for gender gap and that’s the gap in investing and also gender wealth gap. Pretty cool but I am not sure if these gaps are officially measured. It however made me realize that the term ‘gender gap’ is vaguely used by a lot of people to refer to gaps in employment and/or wages (pay).
The term gender gap consists of various categories and during my research, I found out a reliable source – World Economic Forum – that discusses global gender gap and the categories included in calculating the global gender gap index. Spoiler alert: Since we are talking about India and US, according to this annual report, which was released in 2016, US ranked 45 (slipped down from 23 in 2006….what!!!) and India ranked 87 in gender equality.
The Global Gender Gap Index examines the gap between men and women in four fundamental categories (subindexes):
- Economic Participation and Opportunity
- Educational Attainment
- Health and Survival and
- Political Empowerment.
For more information on these categories and the indicators that compose them, visit this page!
While I touched upon the first three categories at the beginning of this article, I did not mention anything about political empowerment despite all the rhetoric surrounding the recent US presidential elections. I often wonder why a country like the US still cannot boast of a female president. More than five decades ago, India had a female Prime Minister (PM), Indira Gandhi, who was elected as the PM three times. In 2007, we also had Pratibha Patil, the first woman to serve as the President of India. We are yet to see something like that happen here in the US. There is still a long way to go but on a positive note, US ranks #1 on the educational attainment category and #26 on the economic participation and opportunity category.
It is also encouraging to see all the great work that UN Women – United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – is doing.
In a report titled – Gender Equality: It’s time, they emphasize five priorities:
- Increasing women’s leadership and participation
- Ending violence against women and girls
- Engaging women in all aspects of peace & security processes and humanitarian action
- Enhancing women’s economic empowerment
- Making gender equality central to national development planning and budgeting
While some nations have already achieved gender equality, others have a long way to go. Wherever you are and whoever you might be, we can all take tiny steps towards accomplishing this goal. What are you going to do?