A report that made headlines the past month was the Global Gender Gap report. India saw a whopping drop in its position and crash-landed at 140th rank among 156 countries in 2021. The World Economic Forum has been issuing an annual report embellished with statistics and data on the gender gap since 2006. Although no country has yet achieved full gender parity, the top two countries (Iceland and Finland) have closed at least 85% of their gap, and the other seven countries in the top ten list (Lithuania, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Rwanda and Ireland) have closed at least 80% of their gap. The overall global gender gap scores are spread across four main components: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

India has closed 62.5% of its gender gap in 2021, bestowing the country a rank of 140th globally. This gap is 4.2 percentage points greater than recorded in the last edition, which explains why India has fallen 28 places in the global gender gap ranking. Most of the decline has been in the Political Empowerment subindex, where India has backslid 13.5 percentage points, reaching a level of gap closed to date of just 27.6%. The biggest change that took place this year is the significant decline in the share of women among ministers. It halved from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021. The fraction of women in parliament remains stagnant at 14.4%, and the share of the last 50 years in which a woman has been head of state is 15.5%. A decline was also noticed in the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, although to a lesser extent. India’s gender gap on this dimension widened by 3% in 2021, leading to a 32.6% gap. Among the many drivers of this decline is a decrease in women’s labour force participation rate, which witnessed a drop from 24.8% to 22.3%. Also, the share of women in professional and technical roles declined further to 29.2%. The share of women in senior and managerial positions also remains low: only 14.6% of these positions are held by women, and there are only 8.9% of firms with top female managers. Further, women’s estimated earned income comes out to be only one-fifth of men’s.

This puts India among the bottom ten globally on the gender gap indicator. Discrimination against women has also reflected in Health and Survival subindex statistics. With 93.7% of this gap closed to date, India ranked among the bottom five countries in this subindex. The wide sex ratio at birth gaps is due to the high incidence of gender-based sex-selective practices. Also, more than one in four women has faced intimate violence in her lifetime. Conversely, 96.2% of the Educational Attainment subindex gender gap has been closed, with parity achieved in primary, secondary and tertiary education. Yet, gender gaps persist in terms of literacy: one-third of women are illiterate (34.2%) compared to 17.6% of men.

The data and facts mentioned above emphasize the alarming need for reducing this gender gap. Let us analyze gender budgeting, a long drawn practice in the country to uplift the status of women through budgetary measures. Gender budgeting is a tool to achieve equality between men and women. It is an ongoing process of keeping a gender perspective in the formulation of policies. A gender budget statement was introduced in the union budget in 2005 for the first time. The rationale behind this idea is that budget affects men and women differently, and so there must be separate provisions for both. Gender budgeting report is released by the ministry of women and child development along with the union budget. It comprises two parts. Part A specifies the women-specific schemes having a 100% allocation for women. Part B includes pro-women plans where at least 30% of the allocation is for women. To ensure proper implementation of the schemes, gender budgeting cells have been introduced in the Union and State governments. These cells serve as focal points for coordinating gender budgeting initiatives in all the ministries. The composition of the Gender Budget emphasizes the government's focus points and the efforts made to reduce the gender gap.


Over the last few years, the following five schemes have made up about 50% of the total allocations in the Gender Budget:

  1. the rural jobs programme called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)

  2. the rural housing scheme called the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)

  3. the Anganwadi Services Scheme that is a part of the early childhood care and development programme

  4. the school education programme called the Samagra Shiksha and,

  5. the Health Systems Strengthening under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

In the year 2019, the union budget allocated Rs. 3200 crores for schemes related to LPG connections for poor households. Rs.2700 crores were allocated for maternity benefit schemes, while a fund named "Nirbhaya Fund" was created for projects related to women safety. In 2005-06, the Gender Budget deep-seated 4.8% of the whole budget outlay. However, over the years, its proportion within the budget has been on the point of stagnation, hovering around 5%. Within the last fiscal year, the Gender Budget stood at Rs 1,43,462 crore or 72% of the whole budget. In 2020, 6% of the union budget outlay was allocated to schemes benefitting women. The particular expenditure exaggerated to Rs 2,07,261 crore, reflective of the government’s gender-sensitive response to Covid.


The post-pandemic scenario continues to be disproportionately negative for women. However, in 2021, the gender budget outlay saw a cut of 26%. The budgetary arrangement may end up failing to represent the unbalanced occupation misfortunes experienced by women, the spike in dropout rates of young women further worsened by sexual orientation holes in admittance to computerized devices, the rise in instances of homegrown abuse during the lockdown, the interruption to contraceptive and maternal well-being because of closure of Anganwadi centres, etc. The 10% of the Gender Budget was earmarked for rural housing schemes for women. This made the experts sceptical because while the scheme might benefit women, the houses may not always be owned by women. Allocations for PMAY are considered 100% in support of the Gender Budget as the houses are encouraged to be in the names of women, but no one is monitoring or seeing the extent to which that is being done or the difference it is making on the ground. According to the experts, the gender budgeting process practised by the ministries has been largely dwelled on reporting information in a format that is provided by the Ministry of Finance, and there is not always a clear methodology for attributing weights to different schemes.


Regardless of the shortcomings, the gender budgeting practice has been successful in causing to notice sexual orientation issues. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of sexual orientation responsive planning is the mainstreaming of the possibility that having a gender lens is significant inside the financial discussion. While the focus on programs has assisted with decreasing sectoral disparities, they have far to go towards wiping out imbalances. Sexual orientation planning strategies ought not to expect that "all women are equivalent" and should consider accommodating diversity (a way to deal with how an individual's different social and political characters join and can prompt various types of segregation). Focussed sexual orientation planning arrangements are, additionally, expected to manage to expand position based wrongdoings. The adoption of Gender budgeting should be accompanied by multifaceted and interrelated improvements to budgets in general and the gender sensitivity of budgets. There needs to be a shift from mere "reporting" of gender allocations to “purposive planning” with wider participation of women.


  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/view-assessing-indias-gender-budget/articleshow/80906668.cms?from=mdr

  2. https://www.business-standard.com/budget/article/what-india-s-gender-budgets-have-achieved-121012500149_1.html

  3. https://wcd.nic.in/schemes/gender-budgeting-scheme

  4. https://gender-financing.unwomen.org/en/resources/g/e/n/gender-budgeting--an-indian-perspective

Written By: Deshna Jain (deshnajain.08@gmail.com)

Edited By: Priyanshi Kapoor