Asia Pacific Human Development Report: Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific

28 Feb 2010
Asia Pacific Human Development Report: Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific

Summary

Despite rapid economic progress witnessed by the Asia-Pacific region, gender inequality remains deeply entrenched. This report focuses on the ways to narrow wide gender disparities in economic power, political voice and legal rights in the region.


Since their inception in 2003, UNDP’s Asia- Pacific Human Development Reports have been stimulating a lively dialogue within the region on a range of important issues. Prepared by experts from Asia and the Pacific, the Reports present an authentic account of human development progress, possibilities, and challenges in this vibrant and fastgrowing region.


This year’s Report focuses on the critical question of advancing gender equality, as seen through the prism of women’s unequal power, voice, and rights. Despite the region’s many economic gains, the Report chronicles how in many instances women across the region continue to be held back and disadvantaged. Even as many women have benefited from their countries’ improved education, health, and prosperity, they continue to face barriers to the same opportunities available to men.


The Report makes it clear that achieving gender equality promotes human development— not only for women, but for whole societies, and is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Where we see progress towards these goals lagging the most is often where the needs and status of women and girls are accorded low priority.


While recognizing that each country is unique and needs to develop its own responses, the Report calls upon policy makers to correct gender imbalances through a broad “agenda for action” across three areas: supporting the economic empowerment of women, promoting women’s political voice, and advancing women’s legal rights. Central to undertaking such efforts, the Report argues for unwavering political leadership across the board, and highlights also the need for men and boys to help foster attitudes and take actions to empower women.


Like its predecessors, this is an independent Report commissioned by UNDP to contribute to human development discourse and policy debates in Asia and the Pacific. By highlighting that human development cannot be achieved if fifty per cent of the population is excluded from the opportunities it brings, UNDP hopes that the Report’s insights will inspire further discussion, and inform the work of development practitioners and policy makers in the region and beyond as they seek to achieve gender equality.


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