India's gender disparity rate falling Some good news for the fairer sex: A report released by the women and child development ministry claimed that gender disparity has declined in a number of key areas from 1996 till 2006, and many states have progressed in translating their growth into a better quality of life for women. The report — Gendering Human Development Indices: Recasting the Gender Development Index and Gender Empowerment Measure for Index — said there was an overall improvement in performance on gender empowerment measures (GEM) over the decade, both in the all-India score and in the scores achieved by all the states and Union territories. In fact, there are some states that have gone a step further and progressed fast in GEM and providing access to the resources. Delhi ranked on top among them with the highest GEM score, 0.564, in 2006. The state was third last time.Nagaland, on the other hand, which was in the lowest rank in 1996 continued to remain down this time too along with Bihar and other northeastern states. About 14 states and Union territories achieved GEM scores above 0.485 in 2006, while in 1996, only two states — Goa and Kerela — were above the cut. GEM was calculated on political participation and decision-making power, economic participation and power over economic resources of women. The GEM score for all of India was 0.416 in 1996, which improved to 0.497 in 2006. Talking about economic participation and decision-making power, it was found that Madhya Pradesh had highest number of women IAS, IPS and IFS officers in 2006. There were 272 women officers in the bureaucracy from the state, followed byMaharashtra (171), Karnataka (161), Uttar Pradesh (157) and Andhra Pradesh (141). There is one-third reservation for women in urban bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). It was found that representation of women in PRIs has increased well beyond the 1/3rd limited in several states and reached an all-India average of 36.75% in 2006. In comparison, representation of women in the 15th Lok Sabha was only 10.7%. It was only 9.52% in Rajya Sabha. “This clearly shows that affirmative action has resulted in increased representation and participation of women in decision-making at the grass-root level,” the report said.