'Indian women see decline on advancement index'

New Delhi: Indian women have witnessed a decline in their socio-economic standing against their male counterparts, according to the annual MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women's Advancement.

The survey noted that India's score in the index dropped from 59.6 points in 2011, to 48.4 points this year.

In its annual survey, MasterCard Worldwide measured socio-economic level of women in relation to men using five parameters: participation in the workforce, tertiary education, business ownership, business and Government leadership and regular employment opportunities in Asia Pacific countries.

The final index score reflects how close or how far women are in achieving socio-economic parity with men. A score under 100 indicates gender inequality in favour of males, while a score above 100 indicates inequality in favour of females. A score of 100 indicates equality between the sexes.

Among the 14 countries that participated in the survey, Australia topped the list with overall score of 83.3 followed by New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

At the sixth place was Thailand, followed by China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and India.

In India, women participation in business and government leadership has improved compared to last year. The scores for the other four indicators saw declines from last year.

India ranked poorly in workforce participation category with only 35 women in the workforce for every 100 men.

However, workforce participation rates for women were healthy across most markets, with eight markets averaging over 70 women for every 100 men in the workforce.

The report said that enrolment rates for women fall below those of men in India, while in other Asia Pacfic countries women are on par or better represented in tertiary institutions than men.

"The results of this latest index show that across the key indicators in most markets women are progressing; big steps are being taken in terms of workforce participation and regular employment opportunities and this is encouraging news.

"This is especially inspiring for the people who champion women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment as it shows that even in challenging times societies are taking these issues seriously," Georgette Tan, Group head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said.

Female business owners in Asia/Pacific still require greater economic and social empowerment as on an average the region had fewer than 50 female business owners for every 100 male business owners, while in case of India the number is as low as 32.5.

When it comes to taking up positions as business and government leaders, there is much room for growth in encouraging women to take up these positions as Philippines (192.3) is the only market that achieved gender parity in business or government leadership.

Besides, India (65.8) and Singapore (65.5) also had a reasonably high proportion of women to men in business and government leadership positions.