The Economic Survey 2018 started with the pressing issue of gender equality in the country. In a first, the survey document was in a pink cover in order to show the government's commitment and solidarity to women empowerment and equal rights. Explaining the significance of the pink cover, the finance ministry's Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian said, "In our bid to further the cause of women's empowerment, the cover of Economic Survey 2018 is pink."
The survey, prepared by the CEA, highlighted that India has lower women participation in the labour force, "adversely affecting the growth potential of the economy".
The survey first highlights that most Indian families are keen on having male children over girls and that has created 21 million "unwanted girls". The annual survey, which is the report card of the economy, pointed out that Indian parents keep producing children till they have the "desired number of sons". This phenomenon has been described as 'son meta -preference' in the chapter Gender and Son Meta-Preference.
The survey highlights that the sex ratio of last birth in the country has come down barely from 39.4 per cent in 2005-06 to 39 per cent in 2015-16.
The survey assesses the gender issues on three specific dimensions which show the status, role and empowerment of women at present:
1. Agency - relates to women's ability to make decisions on reproduction, spending on themselves, spending on their households and their own mobility and health.
2. Attitudes - violence against women/wives, and the ideal number of daughters preferred relative to the ideal number of sons.
3. Outcomes - relate to 'son preference' measured by sex ratio of last child, female employment, choice of contraception, education level, age at marriage, age at first birth and physical or sexual violence experienced by women) which aim to reflect the status, role and empowerment of women in the society.
The survey also pointed out that the number of women earning a living has seen no change in 10 years between 2005-06 and 2015-16, with only 24 per cent of women actively employed in 2015 -16 as compared to 36 per cent in 2005 - 06.
However, the survey noted that there has been a considerable improvement in areas such as decision making regarding household purchases, visiting family and others. It added that government's schemes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Sukanya Samridhi Yojana schemes, and mandatory maternity leave rules are all steps in the right direction.
The survey also mentioned that the North Eastern states have consistently outperformed the rest of the states and is a model for the country. Subramanian said that these states lead the way to gender equality, leaving the more prosperous hinterland and some developed Southern states behind.
The pink theme of the survey was not only limited to the cover, but the website was also made pink, including icons and hyperlinks as well.