Keynote Address at the International Women's Day Breakfast

Keynote address by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the International Women's Day Breakfast on 7 March 2014 in Manila, Philippines

(as drafted)

Good morning everyone. Happy International Women’s Day! Today we celebrate the progress and achievements of women globally, and especially in our region. Let me extend a warm welcome to our 2 special guests who are joining our celebration. I am very pleased to see so many of you here this morning. I’m even more encouraged by the presence of so many members of ADB’s board, management and senior staff.

Today we have much to celebrate. The Asia and Pacific region has made impressive progress over the last decade to narrow gender gaps. Today, we have more girls in schools, fewer women dying in childbirth, and more women in paid employment, parliaments and decision-making bodies. Today the region is a better place for women and girls. I hope that ADB has contributed, even modestly, to this success.

Good progress has been made across the region to reduce gender disparities. However, the achievements are not spread widely or evenly across the entire region.Much more needs to be done to close the remaining gender gaps and improve the lives of ALL the women and girls in our region.

The ongoing mid-term review of Strategy 2020 reveals that ADB has made very good progress on supporting gender equality through its operations. In 2013, 55% of ADB’s operations were designed with gender equality objectives – surpassing our corporate gender mainstreaming target of 50% by 2016. Of note was the $430 million Pakistan Social Protection Project that will provide direct cash transfers, national identity cards and bank accounts to 2.4 million poor women. We need more investments like these, targeted directly at women and girls.

Despite progress, gender equality and women’s empowerment are still "unfinished business" in the region. Moving forward, gender equality will remain at the “front and center” of ADB’s development agenda.

One of the first things I did as ADB President in April 2013 was to sign and approve the new Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Operational Plan. The Plan provides the roadmap for ADB operations supporting gender equality. In line with the Plan, we will intensify our efforts to develop more projects that directly target women and girls to reduce gender gaps and disparities. This is especially needed in areas such as education, access to productive assets, employment and financial services. We will also ensure that our infrastructure operations are designed to meet women’s needs, reduce their time poverty, provide access to essential services and improve their economic opportunities.

Within the institution, ADB is also making good progress on supporting gender equality. Today, women make up nearly 35% of international staff and 27% of senior staff. Our new Diversity and Inclusion Framework, adopted in 2013, is designed to ensure a more gender balanced, diverse and inclusive workplace. To achieve this, we need to remain focused on recruitment, retention, and promotion of female staff, particularly at the higher levels. I am committed to building on this progress with you.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to invite all of you to attend the series of events and visit exhibits during Gender Month. Let me again wish you all a Happy International Women’s Day.

Thank you.