Asia-Pacific commemoration of International Women’s Day focuses on women’s empowerment to achieve sustainable development

Asia-Pacific Commemoration of International Women's Day on  8 March 2017
Asia-Pacific Commemoration of International Women's Day on 8 March 2017

At the 2017 Asia-Pacific commemoration of International Women’s Day a distinguished panel of experts underscored the need to close the gender pay gap, ensure comprehensive social protection for women workers, recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work and address other key issues related to women’s economic empowerment in order for the region to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The panel also emphasised the importance of transformative measures by Asia-Pacific governments to ensure women’s economic empowerment. These include strengthening normative and legal frameworks for full employment and decent work for all women; implementing macroeconomic and social policies which accelerate women’s full and equal participation in the world of work; harnessing technological innovations for greater financial and digital inclusion; and mobilising sustained and diverse sources of financing.

The 2017 commemoration focused on the theme of “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 and SDGs by 2030”. Women face key obstacles in exercising their rights to and at work in the region. Across Asia and the Pacific, women’s labour force participation is lagging behind at 61 women for every 100 men today, whilst the gender pay gap in the region is estimated to be approximately 20 per cent. In South and South-West Asia and South-East Asia, a staggering 78 and 60 per cent of women workers are concentrated in vulnerable employment, with low wages, no formal contracts and often hazardous working conditions.

“Women are powerful agents of change – and empowering women benefits whole societies. Without realising women’s rights and economic empowerment, the success of the entire 2030 Agenda hangs in the balance. As we mark International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to recommit our efforts in ensuring that we protect and promote the rights to and at work of every woman and girl in Asia and the Pacific,” said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), during the commemoration.

“Women’s economic empowerment and inclusion in the future world of work is essential for the collective well-being and the future of our integrated and global economy. If gender gaps in the labour market were closed, it would increase GDP per capita by 12 per cent in East Asia and the Pacific and 19 per cent in South Asia. There is an urgent need to analyse the role of public policy in correcting the prejudices and imbalances that are deeply rooted in the society,” added Dr. Miwa Kato, Regional Director of the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The 2017 commemoration of International Women’s Day was organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and the UN RCM Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.