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Power, voice and rights: a turning point for gender equality in Asia and the Pacific
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In every country across Asia and the Pacific, pervasive gender inequality remains a barrier to progress, justice and social stability, and deprives the region of a significant source of human potential. Inequality persists despite robust growth and progress, and cuts even deeper for poorer or otherwise excluded groups. This report therefore suggests that it is time to catalyze change by focusing on institutions in three arenas - economics, politics and the law. Indeed, deliberate public policy choices, combined with attitudes and assessments that favour social justice can foster progress towards gender equality.
The paper's findings include:
Many Asia-Pacific countries have made formal commitments to this key development goal and in the region as a whole, women now live longer and are better educated.
The gap in labour force participation is narrowing as a higher percentage of women go to work and a handful of countries are also above global averages in women’s political participation. Furthermore, discriminatory laws have been discarded in some cases and national policies adapted to systematically pursue gender equality.
However, women in the region are more vulnerable to poverty than men, not simply because they have lower incomes, but also because their ability to access economic opportunities is constrained by discriminatory attitudes that restrict their mobility, limit employment choices and hinder control over assets.
Countries should ratify and use international conventions that promote human rights, respect for diversity and equality for all. A more deliberate focus on gender and how it affects women’s economic options is required particularly in targeting poverty interventions to provide equal opportunities for women and men.
Because education systems still perpetuate gender stereotypes, national and local governments should develop awareness of gender in such systems, such as through teacher training and legislatures.
National statistical systems should strengthen capacities to collect, report and analyze sex-disaggregated data, especially in overlooked areas such as the prevalence of gender based violence and male-female gaps in asset ownership.
Civil society, the media, academic institutions, religious organizations, businesses and other groups involved in shaping social attitudes should be enlisted in influencing them to support gender equality.