GoI - UNDP Releases Report on Gendering Human Development Indices

08 Mar 2009

Date: 8 March 2009

Venue: New Delhi

To mark the International Women’s Day, the Government of India and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a summary of a report that uses India-specific gender-related development indices and estimates the country’s scorecard on gender equality.

Titled, ‘Gendering Human Development Indices: Recasting the Gender Development Index and the Gender Empowerment Measure for India’, the report by the Ministry of Women and Child Development recasts the global gender-related indices first introduced by UNDP globally  in 1995, making it more relevant for India.

According to the report, the level of both human and gender-related development indices has gone up between 1996 and 2006 but gender based disparities continue to exist. While the estimated Human Development Index (HDI) increased from 0.584 in 1996 to 0.648 in 2006, the Gender Development Index (GDI) score for India has remained lower than the HDI score over the 10-year period. GDI scores have increase from 0.568 in 1996 to 0.633 in 2006, implying that progress has been made.

The report also ranks India’s union territories and states in order of their respective HDI and GDI scores.  The Union Territory of Chandigarh has overtaken the southern Indian state of Kerala to record the highest HDI and GDI scores in 2006 at 0.801 and 0.781, respectively. Kerala, which had the highest score in 1996, came in second. The states with the consistently low achievement on both HDI and GDI are Bihar (lowest in the country), Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Orissa. The states that accomplished the largest gains on HDI over the decade were Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. These states also had the largest improvements in GDI.

The Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), which is intended to measure women’s and men’s ability to participate actively in economic and political life and their command over economic resources, was also calculated. The aggregate score for GEM for India was 0.413 in 1996 and 0.451 in 2006. Though this is higher than the GEM scores for India estimated by the UNDP in 1998, the values attained still reflect the existence of sharp disparities in gender empowerment. The scores also reflect that women in India have particularly low power over economic resources. 

With this report, it is hoped that the gender-related development indices can be used as tools to highlight the gender disparities vis-à-vis human development attainments. Analysis of India’s gender equality scorecard can also guide policymakers to re-allocate resources for programmes and schemes designed to correct gender gaps at all levels of governance.

The dimensions and indicators used in the report were selected by a ‘Technical Advisory Committee’, comprising India’s leading statisticians and economists. Equal weight was assigned to all the dimensions, however, within the dimensions the indicators chosen, weights and goal posts would be more relevant to the Indian context.

The final list of indicators used was constrained by availability of data for India and for most states and union territories. Data gaps exist even for the finally selected indicators, thereby, requiring assumptions of averages. 

The UNDP in India has supported the initiative under its joint project with the Ministry for promoting gender equality and the Indian Institute of Public Administration was the collaborating technical institution.

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