Economics of Gender Equality

Monday, 4 May 2015, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Gender inequality remains a serious hurdle to inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia and Pacific region. About a half of its working-age women are economically inactive, resulting in an economic loss of $42–$47 billion annually. The channels of gender inequality are so complex that policy interventions must go beyond economics to effectively address them. A multidimensional approach to reducing gender inequality could unleash a nation’s full potential for inclusive growth and development.

This seminar will take up the challenges and opportunities for enhancing female labor force participation, and draw major policy lessons from the experience of various countries.

Key Questions

  • What are the economic costs of gender inequality in developing Asia, and what are the opportunities and challenges ahead in improving female labor force participation and the quality of women’s jobs?
  • Would raising women’s participation in the formal economy in Asia simply displace men – a “zero sum game” from the viewpoint of total economic output – or would women’s economic emancipation serve to raise overall productivity?
  • What are the implications of the absence of female role models in high-level political, corporate and private sector positions and what can be done to improve gender balance in decision making positions in politics and business? Is there a case for “affirmative action?” by governments in this regard?
  • What can multilateral development agencies do to improve women’s access to decent jobs and what lessons can be drawn from policy successes and failures in various countries and other regions?

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Roberta Clarke
Regional Director, UN Women Regional Office for Asia

Bruce Davis
Vice President, Administration and Corporate Management, Asian Development Bank

Jala Garibova
Vice Rector for International Relations of Azerbaijan University of Languages

Naina Lal Kidwai
Vice President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Executive Director on the Board of Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and Country Head of HSBC India

Anne Sipiläinen
Governor for Finland in the Asian Development Bank and Under-Secretary of State, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland


Anthony H. Rowley
Tokyo Correspondent, Singapore Business Times
Writer, Emerging Markets newspaper and Institutional Investor magazine