Progress remains elusive for women in India

A young girl holds a sign that reads "Do not justify rape."
A protest against rape culture in Mumbai. Photo: Praful Gangurde/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is the world’s largest democracy, a hub for economic growth and innovation, and, by some measures, one of the worst places on earth to be a woman.

The big picture: Policy changes to improve conditions for women are starting to take effect, but repressive cultural norms make progress slow. In fact, as India's economy has grown, women's labor force participation has actually declined. That's unusual for a rapidly developing economy, according to Shamika Ravi of Brookings India. "It's about safety," she says.