The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India

By Jonathan Woetzel, Anu Madgavkar, Rajat Gupta, James Manyika, Kweilin Ellingrud, Shishir Gupta, Mekala Krishnan

Achieving gender equality in India would have a larger economic impact there than in any other region in the world—$700 billion of added GDP in 2025—but comprehensive change is needed.

India has a larger relative economic value at stake from advancing gender equality than any of the ten regions analyzed in a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth.1 If all countries were to match the momentum toward gender parity of the fastest-improving countries in their region, $12 trillion a year could be added to global GDP. What’s more, India could add $700 billion of additional GDP in 2025, upping the country’s annual GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points.

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Our new report, The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India, reveals that about 70 percent of this “best in region” potential would come from raising women’s participation in India’s labor force by ten percentage points between now and 2025, bringing 68 million more women into the labor force—70 percent of them in just nine states. This will require bridging both economic and social gender gaps. To determine this, we have created a measure of gender equality for Indian states: the India Female Empowerment Index, or Femdex (exhibit).

Our analysis shows that scores vary widely, and India’s challenge is that the five states with the lowest gender inequality account for just 4 percent of the female working-age population; the five states with the highest inequality account for 32 percent.

Eight priority actions can help accelerate progress, including education and skill-building, job creation in key sectors, corporate policies to promote diversity, and programs to address deep-rooted mind-sets about the role of women in work.

About the author(s)

Jonathan Woetzel and James Manyika are directors of the McKinsey Global Institute, where Anu Madgavkar is a senior fellow; Rajat Gupta is a director in McKinsey’s Mumbai office; Kweilin Ellingrud is a principal in the Minneapolis office; Shishir Gupta is a specialist in the McKinsey Knowledge Center in Gurgaon; and Mekala Krishnan is a consultant in the Stamford office.
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