28Nov2022

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Tag: Sri Lanka

The Explainer - NIPoRe Blog

The Global Gender Gap Report: Has South Asia Progressed?

Sagoon Bhetwal

The World Economic Forum (WEF) annually releases the Global Gender Gap Report. WEF, with this report, helps the world leaders to understand better how their governments fare in terms of minimizing existing gender gaps. It published the first report in 2006 using indicators across four subindexes: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Education Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment. In 2021, the report highlighted that it would take 135.6 years to close the existing global gender gap. With some improvements, the 2022 report was revised to 132 years. In this blog, I will try to answer questions like: Where does South Asia stand in terms of gender parity? Have we seen growth in our region, or rather, decline?

To begin with, the WEF defines the gender gap as “the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments and attitudes”. The subindexes receive scores from 0 (which indicates perfect gender imparity) to 1 (which indicates perfect gender parity). 

South Asia remains one of the poor performers in the analysis. In 2021, the region ranked second last among the eight regions considered for the analysis, with a parity score of 62.3 percent. The region’s performance further slided in 2022 and ranked the lowest.  has become the lowest performer with the same parity score. South Asia, in the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, has improved the region’s score from 33.8 percent in 2021 to 35.7 percent in 2022. Still, this is the lowest performance out of all the regions. North America is leading the progress with a parity of 77.4 percent. Afghanistan, one of the major ranked countries from South Asia, has been ranked in the last position (of the total 146 ranked countries) with a score of just 0.176. China, another key rising global economy, on the other hand, ranks in the 37th position (score 0.741). 

In 2022, South Asia  ranks in the second last position under the Educational Attainment subindex with the score from 93.3 percent in 2021 to 93.2 percent in 2022. Under this subindex as well, Afghanistan ranks in the last position further sliding in overall score from 0.514 in 2021 to 0.482 in 2022. China, on the other hand, has here managed to rank in 120th position (score 0.936), thus ranking above Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. 

Likewise, South Asia in the Health and Survival subindex has a parity of 94.2 percent for both the years. The score is still the lowest possible regional score. Under this subindex, India ranks in the last position (among all the ranked countries) with a score of 0.937. However, in 2021, India was just a step ahead of China (ranked last with a score of 0.935).

Finally, under the Political Empowerment subindex, parity score for South Asia has declined from 28.1 percent in 2021 to 26.2 percent in 2022. Despite this decline, the region still remains the fourth best performer in this subindex. Here, China ranks in 120th position (score 0.113), just ahead of Bhutan (score 0.093). Bhutan, as of 2022, remains the lowest performer for this subindex in the region while India is the best performer. 

South Asia, overall, has a parity score of 62.3 percent in 2022, which is 5.8 percent less than the global average of 68.1 percent. The parity score of the region was the same in 2021, against the global average score of 67.7 percent. The 2022 Report has highlighted that South Asia requires 197 years to close the gender gap in the region, far more years than that of global average. Hence, being the worst performing region in the world, it is high time that the governments in the region take national and well-coordinated regional approaches to minimize staggering gender-based gaps.

SAB Blog

SAB Blog – Sri Lanka

Domestic Development

Sri Lanka has faced its most challenging economic crisis since independence. Long-term structural factors and the current government’s poor financial decisions caused the trouble.

Sri Lanka imports more than it exports, and the balance of payment deficit has been a constant feature of the economy since 1977. These gaps were plastered over with the revenues generated by foreign remittances and tourism. However, the pandemic hurt foreign remittances and tourism.

Prime Minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s disastrous policies, such as significant tax concessions soon after his ascension, the decision to go fully organic overnight in 2021, and the soft peg of the Sri Lankan rupee exacerbated the problem.

Things took a disastrous turn for the worst on 9 May when Rajapaksa loyalists attacked peaceful, anti-government protestors at Galle Face Green, Colombo. The protesters had earlier convened at Prime Minister’s official residence near Galle Face and had been egged on by several government parliamentarians.

Following the government crackdown, many citizens, mobilized through social media, attacked pro-Rajapaksa mobs that had arrived in Colombo. Many Rajapaksa supporters who took part in the assault of peaceful protestors in Galle Face were attacked while returning home. Over 150 properties, mainly belonging to politicians were burnt, and angry mobs killed several politicians. Following the widespread violence, Prime Minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president’s brother, resigned on the same day. Other ministers followed suit.

President Rajapaksa’s hold on power was increasingly more tenuous. Opposition parties were not keen to form a unity government under the president.

On 12 May, the president appointed the former Prime Minister and the leader of the United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremesinghe. The following days saw the appointment of a Cabinet of Ministers comprising members of Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and some defectors from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

Wickremesinghe made a statement on the state of the Sri Lankan economy on 29 May, in which he promised five finance committees and ten oversight committees to resolve the economic and political crisis faced by the country. He also pledged to introduce checks and balances to the powers vested on the executive president through a 21st constitutional amendment.

Regional Engagement

Sri Lanka’s dependency on India continued to grow in May, especially concerning the fuel supply. Sri Lanka spends over USD 500 million on fuel, a cost she can’t afford to bear. Some Sri Lankan media reported that Indian assistance was worth 6 billion US dollars in the last six months.

Meanwhile, China, one of the leading financiers of successive Sri Lankan governments, has sat on the sidelines during this crisis. China pledged 76 million US dollars in assistance and shipped large quantities of medicines and food but has not offered loans or a credit line. It comes despite Sri Lankan requests to China for a loan of USD 1 billion and a credit line of USD 1.5 billion.

Global Engagement

Sri Lanka suspended external debt repayments on 12 April and announced a plan to restructure its debt. The country is now attempting to restructure over USD 12 billion in overseas debt (total external debt of USD 51 billion). In late May, Sri Lanka hired heavyweight financial and legal advisers Lazard Freres and Clifford Chance to help renegotiate debts. Meanwhile, most Sri Lankan bondholders have appointed negotiators Rothschild, who is reputed to be extremely unwilling to accept a haircut. Sri Lanka has pinned its hopes on International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance. However, given that this may take a few months, Sri Lanka needs to find bridge finance. So far, only India has stepped in.