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Catalyzing change for gender equality

8 Comments
By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Great strides have been taken to empower women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing adopted an ambitious global agenda to achieve gender equality twenty-five years ago. Gender parity has been achieved in primary education. Maternal mortality has been halved. Today, the region’s governments are committed to overcoming the persistent challenges of discrimination, gender-based violence and women’s unequal access to resources and decision-making. 

The Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference for the Beijing+25 Review will meet in Bangkok next week to explore how more Beijing Declaration commitments can be met to improve the lives of women and girls in the region. Asia-Pacific governments have reviewed their progress and identified three priority areas, areas where action is imperative to accelerate progress in the coming five years.

First, we must end violence against women, such a severe human rights violation which continues to hinder women’s empowerment. As many as one in two women in the region have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in the last 12 months. Countries in the region have adopted laws and policies to prevent and respond to violence against women. This is progress on which we must build. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015 adopted the Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and a Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 2018. Free legal services, hotlines and digital applications to report violence, and emergency shelters and safe spaces for survivors are increasingly common. New partnerships are underway challenging stigma and stereotypes, working directly with boys and men. However, more investment is needed to prevent violence, and to ensure all women and girls who experienced violence will have access to justice and essential services.

Second, women’s political representation must be increased in Asia and the Pacific. Our region’s representation rates are behind the global average. Only one in five parliamentarians are women in Asia-Pacific. Despite governments committing to gender parity in decision making 25 years ago in Beijing, the region has seen the share of women in parliament grow at just 2.2 percentage points annually over the past two decades. We must therefore look to where faster progress has been made. In several countries, quotas have helped increase the number of women in parliament. These need to be further expanded and complemented with targeted, quality training and mentoring for women leaders and removing the barriers of negative norms, stigma and stereotypes of women in politics and as leaders.

Third, economic empowerment remains key. Only half the women in our region are in paid work, compared with 80 percent of men. Ours is the only region in the world where women’s labour-force participation is decreasing in the past 10 years. Two out of three working women are in the informal sector, often with no social protection and in hazardous conditions. Legislative measures to deliver equal pay and policies to ensure the recruitment, retention and promotion of women must be part of the solution, as must supporting the transition of women from informal to formal work sectors. Digital and financial inclusion measures can empower women to unleash their entrepreneurial potential and support economic growth, jobs and poverty reduction. Action has been taken in all these areas by individual countries. They can be given scale by countries working at the regional level.

Next year will mark the convergence of the 25 years of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the five-year milestone of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Investments and financing for gender equality need to be fully committed and resourced to realize these ambitious targets and commitments. Our hope is that the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference for the Beijing+25 Review will help provide the necessary momentum. Now is time to craft priority actions for change and accelerate the realization of human rights and opportunities for all women and men, girls and boys. Let us remain ambitious in our vision, and steadfast in our determination to achieve gender equality and women empowerment in Asia and the Pacific.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of U.N. Women. 

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

8 Comments
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We still don’t have gender equality because:

Men are more likely to commit suicide.

Men are more likely to be victims of violence.

Men have a lower life expectancy than women.

Let’s get some equality here.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

All women’s protections will be sacrificed on the way to the multi gender future. Progressive Americans are medicating their children to produce the “kinda men” or “kinda women” of the future. No need to protect women when hormones are handed out like candy at the gender clinic.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Burning BushToday 07:34 am JST

We still don’t have gender equality because:

Men are more likely to commit suicide.

Men are more likely to be victims of violence.

Men have a lower life expectancy than women.

Let’s get some equality here.

Men commit suicide at greater rates because they are under a lot of pressure yet it is not socially acceptable to voice their struggles, and asking for help is emasculating. This can be address by dismantling gender roles and stereotypes of strong, emotionless men, and making it acceptable for men to express emotions openly so they can foster deeper friendships, ask for help, and vent their emotions in a healthy way.

Men are more likely to be victims of violence ... at the hands of other men. How can this be addressed? Why are men so violent to each other, and to women? That question is a very difficult one to answer in this space. Social factors, psychological factors, and biological factors all play a part.

Men have a lower life expectancy than women for biological, behavioral and environmental factors. For example, women are apparently more robust than men, more men smoke than women, more men have dangerous jobs than women, and men often find it difficult to admit that they are sick and go to the doctor, so their illnesses often progress further and effect their overall health. There is an interesting stat that married men are healthier because their wives help them care for their health. How can we get men to take better care of themselves, by themselves? Again, I think gender roles play a large part here.

I agree: equality benefits both men and women.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Men commit suicide at greater rates because they are under a lot of pressure yet it is not socially acceptable to voice their struggles, and asking for help is emasculating

Either that or men commit suicide because they're sick and tired of putting up with fickle, emotional and conniving women.

Men are more likely to be victims of violence ... at the hands of other men

True, because most men, even the bad guys are respectful enough of women not to be violent against them, even though they have no qualms with being violent with other men. It's the man code, you wouldn't understand.

Men have a lower life expectancy than women for biological, behavioral and environmental factors.

The foremost being the stress of having to put up with fickle, emotional, basketcase women who need constant attention and blame men for everything.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Burning BushToday 02:24 pm JST

Either that or men commit suicide because they're sick and tired of putting up with fickle, emotional and conniving women.

The foremost being the stress of having to put up with fickle, emotional, basketcase women who need constant attention and blame men for everything.

Be careful, Burning Bush. Your misogyny is peeking out.

True, because most men, even the bad guys are respectful enough of women not to be violent against them, even though they have no qualms with being violent with other men. It's the man code, you wouldn't understand.

I'm not sure what you mean by "bad guys," but I can tell you that guys who appear to be nice sometimes hit women, and men who appear to be bad also sometimes hit women.

One of the things women look for when judging a man's character is how he behaves towards others. If a man shows a propensity towards violence with other men, it's pretty likely he is also capable of violence towards women; while guys who can control their temper and avoid physical confrontations are less likely to resort to violence with female partners.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

edbardoeToday 09:49 am JST

All women’s protections will be sacrificed on the way to the multi gender future. Progressive Americans are medicating their children to produce the “kinda men” or “kinda women” of the future. No need to protect women when hormones are handed out like candy at the gender clinic.

meme with Morpheus

What if I told you women don't want protections?

Also, hormones are not "handed out like candy" at the "gender clinic." That is so false and so incredibly exaggerated that I don't think it can even be called hyperbole. It's just a blatant lie.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What if I told you women don't want protections?

Seems to me that women, especially feminists, are endlessly seeking protections. It’s the reason why groups like NOW and other misandrist groups exist.

And what would Darwin say about the role of men protecting women in human evolution?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

WolfpackToday 02:03 am JST

Seems to me that women, especially feminists, are endlessly seeking protections. It’s the reason why groups like NOW and other misandrist groups exist.

And what would Darwin say about the role of men protecting women in human evolution?

I'm not sure if you are being facetious here, because it seems pretty clear that what edbardoe was talking about and what you are talking about here are completely different. One is about unnecessary and misplaced chivalry, and the other about sexual discrimination laws.

I also find it very telling that you would consider any group that is asking for equal rights for women under the law to be misandrist. At least we know where your moral ground lies.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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