MUMBAI: The gender gap in Covid-19 vaccination has disappeared in 11 Indian states but it is sharp in most others, including the states with higher human development index such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Goa.
A chart drawn up on the basis of gender parity index — a socioeconomic index developed by Unesco to measure gender equity in education shows the country’s GPI is 0.98 (the ideal ratio would be 1). “This index was 0.9 on June 27,” said Dr Sachin Pandey, a Gandhinagar-based professor who maintains the data for his website, https://covidtikaherokuapp.com. The states with best GPI at the moment are Andhra Pradesh (1.1), Assam (1.0), Karnataka (0.1) and West Bengal (1.0). In research terms, a GPI between 0.97 and 1.03 indicates parity between genders. The national capital Delhi is at 0.83 while Goa is a bit better at 0.85.
In Maharashtra, where special only-women’s day drives are held in capital Mumbai, the GPI is 0.9. The gap in sheer numbers in Maharashtra is 4.78 crore shots to men versus 4.06 crore to women.
For Dr Vibhuti Patel, professor from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, while the all-India figures look decent, “there are regional variations” that need to be addressed. “The vaccination drive has gaps on the lines of class, cases and gender,” she said. “Even in cities, lower middle classes or even the deprived classes have ensured that their men get vaccinated even if it means paying money. The mindset that men and boys are more important and should get vaccinated before girls and women is evident,” she said.
In this backdrop, can the country achieve the perfect index of 1? Pandey said that while the all-India GPI improved over the last four months, it is unlikely to reach the perfect score of 1.
He gives two reasons: Migration and the fear among pregnant women to get vaccination. Metro cities such as Delhi and Mumbai are likely to have a low GPI.
“This could be because though migrants rushed back with their families to their homes during the first wave, they returned to metro cities alone. They got vaccinated in cities while the wives got vaccinated in their home state. This could explain why states such as Bihar and Odisha have higher ratio of 1.0 and 0.9 respectively,” he said.
And, while 4% to 5% of the female population would be pregnant at any given time, only 1.5 lakh women have taken the vaccine so far in the country. “A gap of 0.2 to 0.3 will thus show up due to pregnant women’s reluctance,” he further said.