International Women’s Day highlights innovative ways to advance gender equality in social protection, public services and infrastructure across Asia-Pacific

The United Nations system in Bangkok is marking International Women’s Day (IWD) today with a series of events to drive public attention and raise awareness of gender equality and the empowerment of women under the global theme “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”.

Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”, the theme for International Women’s Day 2019 explores the ways in which innovation can work to boost investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build infrastructure and public services that meet the needs of women and girls.

“When we approach planning with an innovative, ‘think equal’ mindset that takes the needs of women and girls into account right from inception, it is remarkable how different those plans can look, whether it is urban planning that designs for commuter safety, rural day-care centres that offer workers positive solutions for childcare, or the use of biometrics as ID to replace formal registration documents that many women may not have or control,” said UN Women Regional Director a.i. Anna-Karin Jatfors. “We look to industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists and women innovators to find the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality.”

In this vein, during CSW63, UN Women will officially launch a Guidance Series on Integrating Gender into Infrastructure Development in Asia and the Pacific, developed in partnership with UNOPS. These Guides are the first of their kind and include case studies from across the region, analysis of cost effectiveness and social returns and checklists for stakeholders, operationalizing how to think equal, build smart and innovate for change.

Starting off the regional commemoration on the morning of 8 March, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Women organized an interactive dialogue at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok featuring representatives from government, the diplomatic community, the UN system, civil society and women’s organizations, as well as innovators and social entrepreneurs. The dialogue showcased good practices and innovative solutions that help advance gender equality in Asia and the Pacific and discussed ways in which innovation can remove barriers and drive positive changes to accelerate progress for gender equality.

“Greater access to finance and ICT tools for business development are essential. Supporting scaled up investments for women entrepreneurs, including through initiatives such as the women fintech innovation fund we are working to set up, are important. We need both funding and technical support for companies to pilot innovative digital solutions which support women-led enterprises,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana in her opening remarks.

As part of the celebrations, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), UN Women and partner organizations will “ring the bell” for gender equality to raise awareness of the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. At the event, Ivy Au Yeung, CEO of Hong Kong at ANZ and convener of the group of women chief executives will share her insights regarding the true state of gender diversity in Hong Kong. In addition, Amy Cho, Hong Kong CEO & Head of Intermediary Clients, Asia Pacific at Schroders, will share her personal story about leading change with vital lessons on overcoming the inevitable roadblocks. She will also provide actionable tips on how to boldly defy convention, smartly embrace risks, and reinvent what is possible in one’s career path.

UN Women will also organize and support a series of events across the region:

In Nepal, UN Women will partner with UNFPA on a photo exhibition showcasing women in non-traditional jobs. The country office will also organize a panel discussion on women who have broken the glass ceiling, engaging youth networks, the government and media.

On 8 March, a women leaders’ forum will be organized in Myanmar in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, to showcase innovative solutions and provide recommendations for a road map to strengthen women’s access to economic autonomy and opportunity. In addition, the country will run the social media campaign #BalanceforBetterMyanmar encouraging individuals, organizations, leaders, celebrities and activists to come up with an empowering statement in support of gender equality and to post it on their social media channels, such as Facebook or Twitter, along with a selfie to join the global movement for gender equality.

UN Women Indonesia, in collaboration with UNICEF, will host on 8 March a “Facebook live” session featuring social media influencer Velove Vexia, who will answer questions by youth reporters from across the country. On 13 March, the Indonesia Stock Exchange and partners will hold a ‘Ring the Bell’ ceremony. The event will be followed by a talk-show-style panel with members of the private sector to showcase how they are taking concrete steps to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community and to encourage business to take actions to advance the Sustainable Development Goals and promote uptake of the Women’s Empowerment Principles.

In Thailand, government and civil society organizations will celebrate with an event at IMPACT Arena, Exhibition and Convention Center, Muang Thong Thani, in Bangkok.

For more information, please contact:
Montira Narkvichien
Regional Communications Specialist
UN Women Asia and the Pacific
T: +66 2 288 1579 | M: +66 81 6688900 | E: [email protected]

Ricardo Dunn
Chief, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section,
ESCAP, T: +66 2 288 1861 | El: [email protected]