MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) announced today that they will collaborate on a study that will track Asia and the Pacific’s progress in meeting its gender equality goals under the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework which will run to 2030. The study will focus on the gender equality goal, SDG Goal 5, but will also include all goals and targets that aim to measure progress in improving women’s lives.
ADB and UN Women announced the initiative during the 2-day visit of UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to ADB headquarters in Manila, Philippines. The new SDGs are to be adopted by global leaders when they meet at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month. The new development goals build on the Millennium Development Goals and address the root causes of poverty and inequality and the need for development that works for all people.

The SDGs include a standalone goal dedicated to full gender equality and female empowerment for the first time. Ensuring women and girls play a full role in all aspects of life is essential for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth and development. SDG 5 aims to end all forms of discrimination, violence, and harmful practices against women and girls. It also aims to recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work, ensure women’s full participation and equal opportunities for leadership in political, economic, and public life, and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health. 

“Asia and the Pacific has made progress on gender equality in some areas but falls short in other areas,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. “We must address challenges in areas such as maternal health and employment by creating decent jobs, and ensuring wage parity so women and men, girls and boys reach their full potential.” 
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka welcomed the joint initiative to build a quantitative and qualitative data set on SDG 5 and other goals and targets that aim to measure progress in terms of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“This new initiative will provide countries with a baseline for measuring progress towards gender equality,” she said. “After all, we know the real test of the Sustainable Development Goals will be the depth and speed of implementation at the country level, with a focus on the most marginalized women and girls. Tracking that progress will help us to make sure that we are making the most of every opportunity.”

In a speech at ADB, she emphasized that there would be huge costs related to meeting the SDG 5 on gender equality as well as other related SDG targets such as on social services, health, education, water, and sanitation, which impact women. Political leadership is critical in ensuring policies are matched by investment in programs on the implementation of the SDGs, she said.  

Over the past two decades, many Asian countries have made significant progress in advancing women’s legal rights but millions remain in low-paid, poor-quality jobs and lack access to basic services, including clean water and decent sanitation. Globally, only half of women participate in the formal labor force, compared to three quarters of men, and in developing regions up to 95% of women’s employment is informal. Women have also made slow progress in attaining leadership positions. 

UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programs and services needed to implement these standards. The organization works across the Asia-Pacific region in 32 countries regionally collaboration with governments, civil society organizations, the private sector and the UN system. 

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.  In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion. 

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