Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

When guaranteed through equal opportunity, choice and access to resources, women’s full participation in society and the economy multiplies the capacity of all for sustainable economic growth and social development.

Yet, despite regional advances to ensure gender equality and promote women’s empowerment, women in Asia and the Pacific continue to face discriminatory policies, social and cultural barriers, and threats to their security that violate their rights and limit their potential. The gender gaps in economic participation have barely changed in the last 20 years, and are as high as 50 percentage points in South Asia and 23 percentage points in South-East Asia and the Pacific. In terms of political participation, while the proportion of women in national parliaments has risen from 8 percent in 1990 to 19 per cent in 2017, the region still has the world’s second lowest proportion of women parliamentarians. Across Asia and Pacific, between 25 and 70 percent of women and girls (aged 15 to 49) face violence at the hands of an intimate partner, with severe consequences for women and girls and their families, and of significant economic and social cost to countries.

Our response

ESCAP provides an inclusive intergovernmental platform for governments and other stakeholders in the region to accelerate the implementation of global gender equality commitments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the outcomes of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The gender dimensions of regional priorities for economic and social development are integrated into programme planning and implementation across ESCAP’s work. ESCAP also dedicates focused analysis, targeted programming and technical support at the request of Member States to promote and protect the rights of women and girls. Particular emphasis is placed on enabling economic participation and enhancing women’s share in safe, formal and fully-remunerated employment across Asia and the Pacific.

Our work

ESCAP supports regional cooperation among policy makers and practitioners with regard to implementing international commitments in the field of gender equality and advancement of women.

Enhancing Women’s Economic Participation in Asia-Pacific

As one part of its strategy to enhance women’s economic empowerment, ESCAP is supporting efforts to foster enabling conditions for women’s entrepreneurship. Our works aims to: a) ensure the formulation and implementation of gender-responsive policies in SME development and promotion; b) engage financial institutions to increase women’s access to credit and financial services; and c) enhance women’s access to market information, networks and services, including through harnessing access to ICT.

In this regard, ESCAP produced a study on “Enabling Entrepreneurship for Women's Economic Empowerment in Asia and the Pacific”. Building on this foundation, a publication identifying critical challenges facing ASEAN women entrepreneurs and key drivers for change entitled “Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurship: Transforming Prospects, Transforming Societies” was also launched in 2017.

Progressing Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Asia–Pacific

With the support of the Government of China, the project on “Progressing Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Asia-Pacific” has engaged government officials from national women’s machineries, ministries of finance, national planning bodies, as well as line ministries, in developing their capacity to advocate for and implement gender-responsive budgeting in their countries. Through training workshops, access to a gender-responsive budgeting guide and provision of tailored technical assistance, this project seeks to advance the adoption and implementation of gender-responsive budgeting in the Asia-Pacific region. [Learn More]

E-Government for Women’s Empowerment

ESCAP, in partnership with the United Nations Project Office on Governance (UNPOG) of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is implementing a project on “e-Government for Women’s Empowerment” to enhance knowledge sharing and raise awareness of good practices in this area. By reviewing the three dimensions of the e-Government ecosystem, i.e. online service delivery, citizen update/participation and connectivity, the project has developed a study which examines how the potential of e-Government is being utilised to address the needs of women in their service delivery systems. The findings of this research study will inform the development of an online toolkit for policymakers and stakeholders. [Learn More]

Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women

Through co-chairing the Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women with UN Women, ESCAP plays a key inter-agency coordinating role for the UN system in the Asia-Pacific region, contributing analysis and supporting joint action on regional priorities to advance the global agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Other Knowledge Products on the Gender Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Towards supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, ESCAP is developing a series of knowledge products on the gender dimensions of sustainable development, including examining the gender-environment nexus as well as harnessing the potential women’s transformative leadership.

Asia-Pacific Gender Equality Portal

ESCAP has developed an online gender resource facility to support ESCAP member States in implementation of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The online resource facility supports evidence-based policy formulation, governance practices, service delivery and practical initiatives that foster gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Asia-Pacific region.