The World Needs Empowered Women More Than Ever

By Vu Thu Ha
Asia News Network

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Even when many women in Asia are able to find work, they are more likely than men to be vulnerably employed, with low wages and without social protection. In 2016, the percentage of women trapped in vulnerable employment was 78 per cent in South and Southwest Asia and 60 per cent in Southeast Asia.

Asia News Network

“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world,” former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once said.

Her words ring particularly true in Asia, where stereotypes and cultural norms continue to prevent millions of women from fulfilling their real potential.

This week, as representatives from 21 Asia-Pacific economies gather for the Apec 2017 Women and the Economy Forum in Vietnam’s Thua Thien — Hue Province, it is a opportune time to look more closely at status-quo and some long-standing challenges to closing the gender gap.

First, some compelling figures. Despite the much acclaimed economic and social progress of the past few decades, there are just two countries on this vast continent — the Philippines and Laos — that have made it to the top 50 of 144 countries ranked in the Global Gender Gap Report 2016.

It is no surprise, then, that an ILO report, “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for women 2017”, shows East and South Asia as the only two regions in the world seeing a reduction in the percentage of working women over the past decade.

The situation is particularly worrisome in South Asia, where less than one-third of the female population are active in the labour market, 51 percentage points less than the rate for males.

The picture for the whole of Asia is not much brighter, according to the Asian Development Bank.

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