Women in Asia-Pacific trailing behind in several critical aspects of life, UN report finds

Despite much progress accomplished in ensuring the equal status of women and men in many areas, including school enrolment, health and economic participation throughout the world, a report launched today by the United Nations on the occasion of World Statistics Day makes it clear that still much more needs to be done, in particular to close the gender gaps in public life.
According to World’s Women 2010, launched in Bangkok by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Asia-Pacific trails the rest of the world in the share of women ministers, with less than 10 per cent of ministers in Governments in the region being women. Earnings gaps between women and men are wider in the region compared with Latin America and developed countries—women’s average wage in the manufacturing sector being less than 70 per cent that of men’s, for example.
To commemorate the first ever World Statistics Day, observed today 20.10.2010 in 100 countries around the world, the report titled World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics is being launched simultaneously in New York, Shanghai and Bangkok. In Bangkok, the launch took place on the second day of the meeting of ESCAP’s Committee on Social Development – an intergovernmental legislative forum which kicked off yesterday and brought together 180 participants from over 20 countries. Published every five years, The World’s Women is a unique publication which presents statistics and analysis on the status of women and men in the world, covering eight key areas: population and families, health, education, work, power and decision-making, violence against women, environment, and poverty.
From a global perspective, the publication paints a mixed picture of the conditions of women in Asia-Pacific, with much progress having been accomplished, yet with persistent challenges remaining, including with regard to customary practices and physical violence affecting women, sharing of domestic work and women’s say on spending their own earnings.
“This publication provides us with a basis to strengthen our case for more to be done towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, and to improve women’s status in the region”, noted Ms. Nanda Krairiksh, Director, Social Development Division, ESCAP.
Ms. Haishan Fu, Director, Statistics Division, ESCAP stated: “In order to close the gender gaps, we need to better understand these very gaps, and for this to happen, the availability and effective use of timely and reliable gender statistics urgently needs to be improved throughout the region”.
“Data are still painfully lacking particularly with regard to maternal health, informal sector and informal employment, and the life of persons with disabilities”, Ms. Fu noted.
Today marks the first observance of World Statistics Day, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize the importance of statistics in shaping our societies.
Delivering a keynote statement at the launch in Bangkok, Ms. Judy Wee, a well-known campaigner on accessibility for persons with disabilities in the region stated: “Statistics can be a powerful tool for social change… If we want to achieve equality, accessibility and inclusion, the issue of disability should be visible as it concerns everyone. Statistics should not be used to isolate us but rather, it should unite us all”.
The second session of the Committee on Social Development is being held at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, from 19 to 21 October 2010. Its thematic focus is on “Mainstreaming disability into the regional development agenda in Asia and the Pacific”.
Note to editors: The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics, key findings for Asia and the Pacific is attached herewith. The publication is available online at http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW2010pub.htm The web-based version of the publication is being hosted in a comprehensive website set up by the Statistics Division, New York, which allows for the full range of statistics used for preparing the present publication to be displayed, and provides links.