Asia Pacific urged to accelerate gender equality for sustainable development

Thursday, 2018-10-25 16:15:17
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Vietnam attaches importance to promoting gender equality, particularly among disadvantaged groups such as the poor, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities. (Representative photo: VNA)
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NDO – Countries in Asia and the Pacific should accelerate their progress on gender equality to reach the progressive global goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to a newly-released report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN Women.

The “Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific: Baseline and Pathways for Transformative Change by 2030” joint report was issued at the ongoing ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women in Hanoi, on October 25.

It is the first comprehensive review of the status of women and girls in Asia and the Pacific under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, which highlights the remaining challenges facing women and girls and how improving their situation can help to achieve the SDGs.

The report shows that, while Asia and the Pacific have made progress in certain areas of gender equality, there remains significant inequality for women and girls. As many as one in two women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in the past 12 months. Women and girls also spend as much as 11 times more of their day than men and boys on unpaid care and domestic work, while progress on reducing the maternal mortality rate has also been uneven.

In addition, women in the Asia Pacific region have less access to financial services and productive assets, while girls are less likely than boys to be in organised learning before primary school. Asia and the Pacific is the only global region where the gender gap in labour force participation is increasing. Women also remain underrepresented in decision making and leadership roles with fewer than one in five parliamentarians in the region being women.

The report also identifies the lack of gender data to track progress in countries in the region, with some lacking data on 41% or 36 of the 85 gender-related SDG indicators. It underscores the urgency to improve the production and use of gender statistics for implementing and monitoring the SDGs at the country level.

“Gender equality must be addressed in its own right and as a catalyst of progress across the SDGs,” said ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Bambang Susantono. “The findings and recommendations in the report provide an opportunity to overcome the deeply entrenched gender inequality through transformative change and support progress towards sustainable development in all dimensions: economic, social, and environmental.”

“Data and evidence can bring a deeper understanding of how gender discrimination and power relations exclude women (or men) from certain rights, institutions, and privileges. Overcoming deeply entrenched gender inequalities would not improve the lives of women and girls. It would transform the world, empowering everyone to realise their full potential and live a life of dignity,” said Regional Director of UN Women for Asia and the Pacific, Anna-Karin Jatfors.

To address gender equality gaps and catalyst progress towards the SDGs in the region, the report highlights four transformative policy areas that countries can focus on, including promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights; reducing and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work; ending violence against women and girls; and empowering women to cope with climate change and disaster risks.