Status Report on SDG: Increased Gender Equality But Increased Inequality Overall for Indian States

The NITI Aayog published the status report on Sustainable Development Goals -2019 on 27th December, 2019. United Nations in 2015 has set up 17 sustainable development goals for countries like India. NITI Aayog started publishing a status on 13 of these 17 sustainable goals since 2018. The first such report was published in December, 2018. The report published in 2019 therefore not only talks about the status in terms of the SDG, but also provides a comparison of the situation with respect to 2018. In this article IPD focuses on the performance for SDG 5 and SDG 10

SDG Goal 5: Gender Equality is measured using seven themes: (a) addressing gender based discrimination (b) eradicating sex selection and post birth discrimination (c) access to reproductive health and wellness (d) social protection and economic empowerment (e) women entrepreneurship and economic leadership (f) empowerment through technology and (g) political participation, representation and leadership . The measure is calculated for the all India level as well for the state level separately. ‘SDG Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities’ index comprises of 4 themes – (a) poverty and inequality (b) inequality of opportunities and outcome (c) vulnerable groups and (d) financial inclusion. Higher the value of the index better is the performance for both SDG 5 and SDG 10.

Source: NITI Aayog

In terms of SDG 5: Gender Equality goal, there has been a slight improvement in the index value in 2019 as compared to previous year. However the index value itself is very low till now even with the increase. In terms of SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities goal, there is a decline in performance at the all India level with the index showing a decline in 2019 as compared to 2018. This should be looked in conjecture with the performance in terms of SDG 1 which talks of eradicating poverty and SDG 2 which talks about achieving zero hunger. In both the indices there has been a decline in performance. To add to that there is a growing inequality and while gender inequality shows some reduction but still the inequality is much higher than the desirable levels.

Source: NITI Aayog

Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Punjab are the top ranked states in terms of the index of gender equality while Telengana, Assam and Jharkhand are the bottom three. The more worry is apart from Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, all other states have index score below 50. In terms of change 11 of the 20 states have seen positive movement in the index value while the performance of 9 states deteriorated. The bottom ranked states have seen a higher drop while the top ranked states showed some improvement.

Source: NITI Aayog

Telengana, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala are the top three states in terms of index on reduced inequality while Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana are the bottom three states. When we look into change in the index value in 2019 compared to 2018, it is seen that apart from three states ( Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka) all other major states showed a decline in the performance. This is really worrisome. Only silver lining is that the bottom ranked state, Uttar Pradesh has shown a significant improvement even though it is still in the bottom ranked position.

So what we see is a deterioration in the performance in terms of index of reduced inequality while in spite of improvement the index of gender equality is still at a very low level. This is over and above the decline in performance in terms of indices of reduced poverty and zero hunger. So all of this indicate a growing inequality in the society. The economy is already witnessing a slowdown. Growing inequality along with a slowdown is worrisome moreover when we are witnessing a lack of demand specially in the rural side. Growing inequality means a vast majority remain deprived and hence will spend less leading to continued lack in demand. Focus needs to be given to reduce inequality while leading the economy out from this slowdown. The upcoming budget will surely focus into this.

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