It will take 135 years for women to be treated as equals to men. This is the harsh reality of the world we live in. The long road to gender equality has only become longer due to the pandemic.
A study by the World Economic Forum shows that COVID-19 has dealt a generational blow to bridging the gender divide. In 2019, it was estimated that more than 99 years are needed for women to attain equality. The pandemic has added 35 more years to that, taking the time needed to achieve gender equality to over 135 years.
India has dropped 28 places in the rankings. It now ranks 140 out of 156 nations on various parameters used to measure gender parity.
India is also scoring below the global average. According to the study, the world has attained 68 percent gender parity as things stand. India's score is just over 62 percent.
India has always fared well on political empowerment. As of 2021, India is still scoring nearly 28 percent, which is above the global average of 22 percent. However, India's score in 2019 was over 41 percent. So it has dropped sharply to under 28 percent since the pandemic.
One key reason is the drop in the number of women ministers across states and central government. In 2019, women accounted for just over 23 percent of all ministers. As of now, this is down to single-digits to just over 9 percent. This cannot be blamed on the pandemic.
India also fares poorly on the economic participation of women and providing equal economic opportunity. India's score has declined by 3 percentage points to over 32 percent. This is well below the global average of 58 percent.
India is ranked among the bottom 10 nations on income inequality. Indian women earn just one-fifth of what men earn for doing the same job.
On women's education India is faring slightly better. . India's score of over 96 percent is better than the global average of 95 percent.
India is ranked in the bottom 5 when it comes to health and survival of women. India's score of almost 94 percent is not too far away from the global average of 96 percent. But, India is still in the bottom 5 among 156 nations studied by the World Economic Forum.
Watch Shereen Bhan decodes the findings of the report with Saadia Zahidi, MD of World Economic Forum.