Opening remarks by Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, at the ADB Gender Forum: The Power to Transform: Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific, 22 November 2021


Colleagues and distinguished guests:

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the first Asian Development Bank (ADB) Gender Forum. I am very encouraged that there are over 1,500 participants registered for this event.

The theme of our forum is fitting and relevant, because gender equality does indeed have the tremendous power to transform.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, and rebuilds for a strong and lasting recovery, we must continue to work together to empower women and girls in Asia and the Pacific. We can do so in many important ways:

  • by ensuring that economies work for women;
  • by finding ways for infrastructure to serve the needs of women and girls;
  • by supporting and increasing women’s participation in initiatives focused on addressing climate change, such as projects to support the energy transition; and
  • by addressing gendered patterns of discrimination.

Let me share a few reflections on the transformative potential of gender equality in these contexts, and on ADB’s efforts to support this crucial agenda.

I. Rebuilding for a new and inclusive normal

First, as you all know well, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and climate crises have disproportionately impacted women and deepened existing inequalities. Women are overrepresented in the lowest-paid and informal jobs, which are at greater risk from climate variability and climate shocks.

As we look beyond the pandemic, our region needs to rebuild for healthy societies that are just, inclusive, and sustainable. To accomplish this, countries must view gender equality as central to social and economic development. They must embrace the importance of creating a “new and inclusive normal,” in order to remain competitive and resilient.

II. ADB’s support for gender equality

Let me turn to ADB’s efforts to support the development of women and girls.

First, ADB has committed to mainstreaming gender equality in Strategy 2030.

We aim for at least 75% of the total number of our committed operations to incorporate gender-inclusive project designs by 2030.

Second, our support for recovery from the pandemic is placing increased emphasis on strengthening gender equality. 

For example, ADB will focus on the transformative gender agenda of Sustainable Development Goal 5, addressing pervasive gender inequalities such as unpaid care and gender-based violence.

Third, in line with recent calls from COP26, ADB will fully support gender-responsive climate action.

Our climate finance targets are ambitious:  by 2030, 75% of the total number of ADB’s operations will support climate action, while climate finance from ADB’s own resources will reach $100 billion cumulatively.

As part of this, ADB will support women’s resilience to climate change through our Community Resilience Partnership Program (CRPP), which will work directly with women’s organizations at the community level.

And, as the region’s climate bank, ADB will also enhance its efforts to support a just transition to renewable energy and other sustainable practices that contribute to gender-transformative change.


Let me close by expressing my optimism in our collective efforts to re-imagine and create a region committed to gender equality.

Over the next few days, participants will hear from leaders about their vision and experiences with good practice and innovation. In your discussions, I urge you to keep in mind those whose futures depend on our actions: the girl who was born in the middle of this pandemic, the adolescent who is growing up in a fast-changing world, and the young woman who is about to enter the workforce.

Let us commit to work together to take the actions that are needed to break down barriers facing women and girls, so that we all can enjoy a lifetime of better opportunities.

Thank you.