With an average remaining gender gap of 33%, the South Asia region is the second-lowest scoring on this year’s Global Gender Gap Index, ahead of the Middle East and North Africa and behind the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Bangladesh and India are the top-ranked countries in the region, having closed just under 70% and 68% of their overall gender gap, respectively, while the lowest-ranked countries are Bhutan and Pakistan, having closed 64% and 56% of their overall gender gap, respectively. No country in the region has fully closed its Educational Attainment gender gap, and only one country, Sri Lanka, has fully closed its Health and Survival gender gap. However, the region is also home to one of the top five climbers over the past decade on the overall Index and on Educational Attainment: Nepal.
Of the seven countries from the region included in the Index this year, two countries have increased their overall score compared to last year, while five have seen it decreasing.
Bangladesh (72) is the region’s top performer, recording progress this year on the Political Empowerment gender gap but a widening of the gap on women’s labour force participation and estimated earned income. It is followed by India (87), which reports progress this year on closing the gender gap with regard to wage equality and across all indicators of the Educational Attainment subindex, fully closing its primary and secondary education enrolment gender gaps. However, it also sees some regression on women’s estimated earned income and continues to rank third-lowest in the world on Health and Survival, remaining the world’s least-improved country on this subindex over the past decade. The next-ranked countries are Sri Lanka (100)—which has widened its Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap, particularly with regard to women’s labour force participation, estimated earned income and wage equality, despite a small increase in female parliamentarians—and Nepal (110), which retains last year’s ranking, with small improvements on the Political Empowerment subindex, as well as on literacy and wage equality.
The Maldives (115) re-opens its gender gap in primary education enrolment and shows a small increase in women’s estimated earned income. Bhutan (121) sees a widening gender gap in female labour force participation, estimated earned income and wage equality, partly balanced out by an increase in the number of female professional and technical workers and a smaller gender gap in literacy. Its Heath and Survival and Political Empowerment scores remain the same as last year. Pakistan (143) remains the region’s lowest-ranked country and second-to-last ranked overall. It records progress on closing the secondary education enrolment gender gap, and on women’s estimated earned income, but this is partly offset by reversals on wage equality and female-to-male literacy ratios.