Time of event

14:00–16:05 Tokyo time


A growing body of evidence indicates that women have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and greater policy action is needed to address their economic recovery needs in areas like small business aid, job creation and protection, access to finance, technology, and skills training, and social support. Without timely solutions, women will continue to face difficulties maintaining livelihoods and securing decent work, especially those among the least educated and most vulnerable.

The inaugural ADBI Annual Forum on Expanding Women’s Participation in the Asian Economy spotlighted priorities for achieving a gender-inclusive pandemic recovery in the region, with a focus on policy adjustments that could help to ensure and build upon progress toward expanding women’s education, employment, and entrepreneurship. It featured keynote remarks from Jennifer Gordon, Chief Economist of Australia’s, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, providing context for two discussion sessions.

Session I: Speakers from Yale University and the Asia Foundation presented research on women in the Asian economy, recent household data on the effects of COVID-19 on women, and prospects for addressing employment disruptions.

Session II: ADBI and the Asian Development Bank experts discussed barriers to women-owned businesses in the COVID-19 era and the importance of enhancing women’s participation in the online marketplace for a gender-balanced recovery.

  • Examine case studies and policy lessons for enhancing women’s post-COVID-19 employability
  • Identify avenues for innovation in women’s reskilling and upskilling, business ownership, and building preparedness for changes in work opportunities and employers’ needs
  • Improved understanding of COVID-19 labor market challenges for women, gender-inclusive recovery strategy development, and policy innovation options
  • Identification of policy recommendations for enhancing women’s participation in the Asian economy after COVID-19
  • A planned ADBI Policy Brief highlighting the outcomes of the forum
Conference Presentations

Opening Address
Jenny Gordon, Chief Economist, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia


Presentation 1.1: Boosting Female Labor Force Participation in Asia
Charity Moore, Director, South Asia Economics Research, MacMillan Center, Yale University


Presentation 1.2: Covid-19 and the New Normal for Women in the Economy in South Asia
Sofia Shakil, Director for Economic Programs, Asia Foundation


Presentation 2.1: Disproportionate Barriers to Women-owned Businesses, Post-COVID
Donald Lambert, Principal Private Sector Development Specialist, Southeast Asia Department, ADB


Presentation 2.2: Importance of Women in the Online Marketplace
Daniel Suryadarma, Research Fellow, ADBI


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