The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, published by the World Economic Forum, reveals a stark reality about India and the fragile status of its women. It has been ranked 101 out of 136 nations surveyed on gender-based disparities in economic, political, education and health parameters. It lies at the bottom of the pile among BRICS nations with South Africa leading at 17, followed by Russia (61), Brazil (62) and China (69). Even Bangladesh (overall rank 75) has a higher percentage of women account holders (35 per cent) in a formal financial institution compared to India (26 per cent). The report reveals another interesting indicator. India has a dismally low percentage (9 per cent) of firms with female participation in ownership, compared to neighbouring Sri Lanka (26 per cent), which leads India in the overall ranking (55) as well. The only positive takeaway from this report is the political empowerment index which ranks India at 9, way ahead of most BRICS nations. Only South Africa ranks marginally better at number 8.
The statistics above leaves a lot to be desired from our legislators and policymakers. As one of the youngest democracies, yet the largest, the country’s quest to attain gender equality seems like a utopian dream. As part of the cover story in this issue, we have reached out to some self-made Asian women, who have stood their grounds in the face of adversities or have fearlessly challenged the norm and taken the plunge.
The women we have featured shared with us various aspects, covering their early years of struggle to how they attained success in their current avatar, their take on gender-based reservation to how others can emulate their success. To build up the tempo, we got an introductory article from one of the best known women journalists in the Middle East (where countries are ranked amongst the lowest in gender equality) on three women who broke free from the shackles of a patriarchal society to lead by example. Through our cover story, we wanted to raise a toast to the success of these lion(ess) hearts. We hope many others follow their pugmarks. As the world celebrated the International Women’s Day in early March, we found it important and pertinent to celebrate their success.
This issue also has a special focus on Asian real estate. Our research division conducted a survey on ‘Asia’s Best Real Estate Projects & Properties To Look Out For’. The survey finding has been published in this issue in the form of a colourful feature comprising some of the iconic and best real estate projects from across South East Asia, South Asia and the GCC member states. A section on some of the best projects to look out for in the coming years has also been featured. The official tabulators for this project are Ernst & Young LLP (India).
Our magazine will continue to bring forth international perspectives, voiced by leaders across social, political and business domains. We would strive to present you a product where the stories, design and the voices would be fresh yet in perfect sync with each other. We would be back with some more special issues in the coming months. Till then, happy reading.