Every time our soldiers die in an ambush within the country or in the border, our politicians start politics even with their dead bodies. While some take the ‘advantage’ for their election campaign (BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj was seen waving hands to people from the van carrying a martyr on the eve of 2019 parliament election in India), some others in order to stop one political party from taking away the public sympathy makes some irresponsible comments (TMC leader Mamata Banerjee criticized govt for immediately blaming Pakistan for Pulwama attack). Media and the general public too don’t stop showing their true colours of shaming their own country.
Even globally the situation is not much different. While men have been dying in such warfare for time immemorial, American President aspirant and Senator Hillary Clinton once commented that “women are the primary victims of war”. Men will continue to die while these liberals will continue to make such comments undermining the effort of those brave hearts.
Since the beginning of this civilization, men have been brainwashed to accept this death as their noble duty and hence their sacrifice sadly becomes a political agenda. Even those tears from politicians seem fake nowadays. This sacrifice from men in general and ‘men in uniform’ in particular has become a right for other civilians and sadly this is not even considered as a bias in any society.
There are many such biases exist against men that are not noticed, not spoken about in any forum and while computing the gender inequality in a society these parameters are not considered to calculate the existing ‘bias’.
In a recent study, two Western scholars have found that when the gender gap is adjusted for such inequality, men are seen to be in more disadvantaged than women in 91 out of 134 countries they have studied or 62% of the studied population.
Gijsbert Stoet of Department of Psychology, University of Essex, UK and David C Geary of Department of Psychological Sciences in the University of Missouri, USA have recently published their study in a psychological journal.
In their paper, they have found several discrepancies in the existing measures of gender equality by the UN (published in World Gender Gap Report every year). We will try to understand both the measures in this article to understand gender parity in different countries.
This article on The Male Factor gives the details of Gender Gap analysis as done in the UN report. We will refer to this article whenever needed to illustrate the UN method of gender gap calculation.
UN Method – A Feminist Inequality
The researchers, Stoet and Geary, argued in their study that the UN method of calculating gender inequality only takes care of the parameters that women’s rights groups have been highlighting as an oppression of women. However, the areas where men are discriminated against are not represented in the gender gap analysis and hence the UN method is not the representative method to calculate the gender gap.
The paper lists several existing social factors that create a bias against men and are not considered for the calculation of the gender gap in the UN method. These are –
- Harsher punishment to men for a similar crime
- Overrepresentation in the prison population (sentenced more often)
- Compulsory military history
- Homeless population without shelter
- Higher levels of alcohol and drug abuse
- Higher suicide rate
- More occupational death (participation in risky jobs)
- Underperformance in schools thus limiting education
- Overrepresentation in risky/hazardous occupations
- Fewer retirement years (shorter life span) etc.
The researchers also mentioned that polygyny practised in many nations as oppression against men. This is because as researchers argued, polygyny deprives more men than women of having a family and a sexual/reproductive life.
Since all the above factors that oppress men are not captured in the UN index to measure inequality, the researchers argued that the UN index is not a true presentation of the gender gap.
Inequality as A Choice
The Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI – the UN method) is calculated based on four parameters –
- Economic participation and opportunities
- Educational attainment
- Health and survival
- Political empowerment
The researchers mentioned that the scores of each subindex are weighted differently and range theoretically between 0-1. Where 1 indicates that women have parity (or men fall behind because the indices are capped).
Researchers argued that certain subindices in GGGI calculation may be the result of the choices genders make rather than any bias. For example, men in developed economies participate less in tertiary education and this may not be a bias against them. Researchers argue that this may simply be a choice for them of joining vocational education (and start earning at the earliest) rather than joining any formal education. Similarly, joining politics demands a great deal of work-life balance and thus be unfavourable for women.
The paper thus basically tries to argue that – ‘inequalities in the outcome’ may not be the result of the ‘inequalities in opportunities’. This is, however, a feminist theory indeed and based on this theory feminists demand reservation – see this article.
Unjustified Weights In GGGI
The researchers also argue that the weight is given to each subindex also reflects poorly on the conventional UN method of calculation of the gender parity index. For instance, the Sex ratio at birth is weighed at 0.693 is much higher compared to healthy life expectation weighed at 0.307 only. We can’t forget that the natural sex ratio at birth is 105:100 (male: female). Even though this parameter may show sex-selective abortion but it is still not a direct measure and an indirect measure of bias. Hence the calculation of the GGGI is biased against males and is based on feminist principles only. (Feminists always highlight low females at birth and never talk about more females over 60 years of age). It is easily understood that the real bias in a society can be understood better by checking which gender is living longer in society rather than which gender is not taking birth. If there is a general bias against women in society then women won’t be able to live longer in that society.
The paper argues that there are many ways women and men may be disadvantaged and it is practically impossible to come to a conclusion about the correct way to calculate the gender parity. Thus, the researchers suggested a simpler approach to calculate gender inequality and this index is termed as Basic Index of Gender Inequality or BIGI score.
BIGI – Simple Approach to Inequality
BIGI score is based on the following three very basic simple parameters of life –
- Educational Opportunities in childhood
- Healthy Life Expectancy (the number of years one can expect to live in a healthy life)
- Overall life satisfaction
These three parameters complement one another in important ways and show overall satisfaction of the individual from living the way they have experienced it. In one way the inclusion of the satisfaction takes care of multiple factors that may exist in one society that either creates advantage or disadvantage for one individual.
Stoet and Geary say, that a smaller number of subindices to measure inequality actually helps BIGI remain unaffected by complex assumptions and bias created due to those assumptions. This is because low participation in politics by women may simply mean they are not interested in a political career and hence can’t be levelled as a bias in the first place.
The paper also gives sample calculation for the US to show how BIGI is calculated –
- The life span ratio of women/men are taken. It is >1
- The enrollment sex ratio at the primary and secondary education level is taken and the value that deviates the most from gender parity (0) is taken
- The ratio of women/men life satisfaction is taken. >1
- The average of the above three values is taken. Which was again >1
- Then the final value was deducted from 1 in order to understand how much this value deviates from gender parity
- The BIGI score for the years 2012-2016 is calculated in this manner and an average is taken as the BIGI average to understand the gender parity in the US
If the final score is negative, the society is favoring women and if the final score was positive it is favoring men.
Countries where girls have an advantage
Here are the 91 countries where girls have an advantage –
Now see these countries in a world map –
How India Fared
India’s rank in the BIGI table is #117. Here women live longer and healthy life expectancy of women is more than men. But women get dragged down in education and in overall life satisfaction. The report says India falls behind largely due to the illiteracy of women. It also says that there is no other country with a comparable level of human development where girls behind so much in education.
Overall, the report concludes that India is a country that favors men.
However, India’s data on education seems to be problematic. The bias calculated by the researchers seems to be wrong. This is because the latest government data (NSSO survey) shows that boys are in fact disadvantaged in education. They not only pay higher fees for the same education, but they also get disadvantaged because of several policies thus creating an institutional bias against them. Read here.
As a result of this boys are in fact forced to drop out of the education system.
Education – A deciding factor
Now the data and the BIGI score also shows countries where women are heavily favoured in education but are still poor or underdeveloped. The top 10 countries with a maximum bias against men in education and their human development index (HDI) are given below – (Country-Absolute value of BIGI score for education-HDI) –
- Lesotho – 0.37 – 0.49
INDIA – 0.29 – 0.61 – men at an advantage
- Namibia – 0.22 – 0.63
- Suriname – 0.17 – 0.72
- Philippines – 0.16 – 0.67
- Nicaragua – 0.14 – 0.64
- Botswana – 0.13 – 0.70
- Dominican Republic – 0.13 – 0.72
- South Africa – 0.11 – 0.66
- Qatar – 0.10 – 0.852
- Armenia – 0.10 – 0.74
So, we see that the top 10 countries where women are favoured in education are mostly poor – barring Qatar.
Now let’s see the countries that favour men in education. Data presented in the same manner –
- Chad – 0.66 – 0.39
- Benin – 0.50 – 0.47
- Liberia – 0.50 – 0.42
- Guinea – 0.49 – 0.41
- Mali – 0.46 – 0.43
- Cote d’Ivoire – 0.41 – 0.46
- Mozambique – 0.41 – 0.41
- Burkina Faso – 0.39 – 0.39
- Pakistan – 0.39 – 0.54
- Yemen – 0.39 – 0.49
Since we don’t have any oil-rich country in this group, we find that the nations that favour men in education also are poor and low on human development.
Now let’s see the situation of advanced countries. For each of these I have added their respective BIGI rank in the beginning – (BIGI Rank – Country – absolute BIGI Score for Education – HDI)
- #1 – Italy – 0.001 – 0.88
- #2 – Israel – 0.02 – 0.89
- #3 – Saudi Arabia – 0.07 – 0.84
- #6 – Singapore – 0.057 – 0.92
- #8 – China – 0.059 – 0.727
- #11 – Switzerland – 0.024 – 0.94
- #16 – Belgium – 0.016 – 0.89
- #20 – Germany – 0.025 – 0.92
- #23 – Canada – 0.014 – 0.915
- #24 – Great Britain – 0.012 – 0.905
Some Interesting Facts Researchers Noticed
After this study researchers found these interesting facts –
- In most developed countries it’s the men who are disadvantaged. Example – US, UK, Canda, Australia etc.
- In the least developed countries, which are mostly in Africa, girls fall behind particularly in education
- Countries with poor reputation about gender equality may have surprisingly good BIGI score, e.g. Saudi Arabia.
- Countries, where healthy life expectancy is large in favor of women, are all countries with high alcohol consumption (Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia). On the other extreme are 5 countries (Qatar, Kuwait, Mali, Bahrain, UAE) where alcohol is taboo.
- Men consume more alcohol than women in any country and consumption of alcohol does not decline with ageing.
- 5 out of the top 10 countries in terms of BIGI ranking have women in an advantageous position (looks like equality ensured ). 9 out of last 10 have men in advantage.
Countries where the life expectancy of men is more
Mali, Kuwait, and Qatar are the only three countries in the world where the healthy life span of men is more than that of women.
Policy Implications of the BIGI score
Men’s disadvantages are found mostly due to health factors. So, researchers concluded that it is important to focus more on men’s health programs and spend more on those policies.
Girl’s disadvantage is found mostly in terms of education in African countries. But these factors are already taken care of through different national and international programs. Whereas for the countries where men are at a disadvantage in education, there exists no program to boost their education.
As we understand from the above discussion that education is a key factor for gender equality. But either gender getting advantage in education may not ensure overall advancement. Most advanced countries (and some non-advanced countries as well) have eliminated the discrimination in education. Whereas there exist several national and international programs to help girls’ education (‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ in India for example) but there is none for boys. International surveys and UN promoted programs always focus on girls and women and as a result, boys’ education gets no focus. This research, however, shows that the time has come when we try to understand gender inequality in a fair manner and try to eliminate bottlenecks.