Like I always say, reports can be used to deliver any message depending on the context and motivation. This applies especially to statistics collected from a large number of sources, where the power of assumption, approximation and assimilation lies with the person collecting the data and creating the report.
Which is why a report like the Gender Gap Report 2010, created by the World Economic Forum has to be taken with a pinch of salt. More than just a pinch actually.
But the report, if taken on face value, reveals something not many Indians will like to hear. It is that India stands at 112th position (of the total of 134) when it comes to equality of women. There are plenty of ways you can pivot the data — some are outward looking (region, income) and some are inward looking (education, health, politics, employment), but none of that change the synopsis of the story.
Though I did not read the entire report (334 pages), I managed to read most part of Part I of the report. Part II covers country profiles and I read the ones that interest me. Here are some tidbits from this report:
- This report does not consider one of the most important gender-gap dimensions — the social.
- For all the noise about China becoming the 2nd most powerful economy, it is at 61st position when it comes to gender equality (India is far further behind China)
- Within APAC, India is ahead only of Nepal, Iran and Pakistan
- United States is at 19th rank, but more importantly — behind 39 countries when it comes to political empowerment.
- Eventhough behind on political empowerment, US scores really well on other spheres — health, education, economy — all areas where India’s rank is 100 or lower (higher in number)
- Whether it is debt levels, corruption levels or women equality, Iceland is a really good country :-)
- India is behind 14 countries that are considered muslim-majority (Underlying assumption is women in muslim-majority countries have to struggle harder to achieve equality).
For my earlier post on Women Empowerment (not Gender Equality), please click here