ADB's Work in the Gender and Development Sector
While there have been significant advances in accelerating gender equality, gaps persist in education completion, health outcomes, employment, and participation and leadership in decision making. Progress to women’s full participation in society is still hampered by discrimination and, gender norms. For example, women can face discrimination in hiring and compensation, and face additional barriers entering into certain sectors which are male dominated.
Prevalence rates for gender-based violence in parts of the region are above the global average, particularly in South Asia and the Pacific. Influenced by gendered socio-cultural norms, gender discrimination and restrictions on mobility and heavy household responsibilities continue to limit many women’s economic and social activities outside of the home, reducing their opportunities for economic security, independent decision making, and personal growth.
The World Economic Forum 2021 Global Gender Gap report showed a 68% decline in overall gender parity compared to the previous year. Further, at current rates, the report notes that it will take over 100 years to close the gender gaps in economic, education, and political participation in less developed regions, including Asia and the Pacific.
It is critical for the region to eliminate these gender disparities and ensure that women are included in decision-making at private and public levels and have equal rights and access to resources.
ADB’s gender operational plan is fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which ADB and its DMCs have committed to. This is reflected not only in stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 - to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls — but also in the mainstreaming of gender-related targets and indicators across the other SDGs.
ADB mainstreams gender and development in all stages of the project cycle (project identification, implementation, monitoring and evaluation) and continuously develops and updates indicators, measures, and standards for gender and development.
Addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequality
Women face many challenges which prevent their full integration in the global economy. These include: limited access to education and skills training; gender wage gaps; and unequal distribution of domestic work. Even when women participate in the labor force, this does not automatically lead to a reduction in gender-based inequality. In developing Asia, only 49% of women of working age participate in the labor force compared with 80% of men. Further, a woman in developing Asia is paid only 77% that of her male counterpart, on average, and their labor force participation has been declining event before the pandemic.
Yet, women’s economic empowerment encourages productivity, increases economic diversification, and income equality. ADB supports projects across the region that prioritize science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for girls, women’s entrepreneurship, action to reduce women’s unpaid care work, and maximizing women’s future potential in high-values economies.
Climate action and gender
Climate action can be a force for gender transformation. Evidence shows that in countries with high levels of gender inequality, there is also higher vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change. Climate extremes degrade ecosystems and place heavy burdens on women and girls, whose livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources. Effective climate change adaptation takes place when the social drivers of vulnerability are addressed.
ADB supports innovative approaches to gender responsive climate finance, developing gender responsive nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and supporting women’s participation in the renewable energy transition to achieve a just transition. With growing levels of investment in renewable energy there is great potential to bring women and female entrepreneurs into the sector. This can only happen by building women’s skills, addressing gender norms, providing women with finance, and changing policies that prevent women participating in the energy sector.
Making cities more livable
Urban development initiatives need to ensure equal gender access to infrastructure services. Women need to be involved in decision making on urban issues affecting their lives and environment. Infrastructure which neglects to consider the needs of women and girls impedes their equal access to critical resources such as clean water, health, sanitation, and digital communications. Further constraints on women and girls are placed by their unequal access to transport in cities, threats to their personal safety and security, and lack of representation in urban governance. ADB supports the redesigning of cities to include women, improving women’s access and use of transport, and digital technology for women.
Rural development and food security
While Asia's economic growth puts pressure on the region’s limited natural resources, many places continue to struggle with high levels of poverty, food insecurity and poor nutrition. Strategies for agriculture and rural development do not always directly benefit women, and without targeted actions to support female farmers, existing disparities may be amplified. Unless gender inequality in agriculture is addressed comprehensively, the region will struggle to achieve food security.
ADB is initiating rural infrastructure and technology projects that include women in food security and safety decision making. The projects also expand women’s job opportunities in agricultural value chains and help women farmers gain access to finance. The bank supports building women’s capacity through training and skills development in climate-smart agriculture technologies, practices, and crop varieties.
Strengthening governance and institutional capacity
National plans, policies, institutions, and budgets need to comprehensively assess gender gaps and identify action to close these gaps. Changes to promote gender equality need to be backed by adequate resources, and be systematically monitored for progress in reducing gender discrimination.
To date, women occupy only 6% of seats on corporate boards and only 18% of seats in legislatures across the region. ADB supports initiatives to empower women by equipping them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude to participate in decision-making processes and the development agenda.
ADB’s Policy on Gender and Development (GAD) is the guiding framework for gender and development activities. The Policy adopts gender mainstreaming as the key strategy for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment across the full range of ADB operations—from country partnership strategies to the design and implementation of gender-inclusive projects and programs.
Gender equality needs to be pursued in its own right and because it is critical for sustained economic growth, faster poverty reduction, and inclusive development. Under investments in women are missed opportunities to correct gender disparities and to capture and unleash the economic and human capital potential of women.
ADB’s Strategy 2030 includes “accelerating progress in gender equality” as one of its seven operational priorities. Gender performance is tracked and reported annually.
Gender and Development Policy Reviews
Periodic reviews of the GAD policy in 2002 Interim Progress Report on the Policy on GAD and 2006 GAD Policy Implementation Review confirm the Policy’s continued relevance and sound framework for supporting women’s empowerment and gender equality outcomes.
The implementation reviews covered the period 1998-2006. The results of the review are presented in 2 separate reports which include:
- general trends related to gender equality in the Asia and Pacific region
- ADB's implementation experience in key areas of the Policy, including the contribution of various institutional mechanisms to achieving results under the Policy
- overall assessment of ADB's performance in gender mainstreaming in country strategy and programs, loans and technical assistance projects
- steps to improve the scope and quality of ADB's gender-related work and mechanisms for monitoring progress.
The review process included the following:
- Desk reviews of ADB reports and evaluation studies
- Rapid gender assessments of selected ADB loans under implementation
- Consultations with and technical inputs from ADB's External Forum on Gender and Development, developing member countries, Management and staff
Since 2006 annual GAD progress reports are prepared to assess and report on Policy implementation and experience.
Potential of women and girls
Since the adoption of its Gender Policy in 1998, ADB has been committed to supporting gender equality in the region, along with constructing a different future for women and girls. In September 2019, ADB approved Strategy 2030 Operational Plan for Priority 2: Accelerating Progress in Gender Equality. This operational priority recognizes that gender equality is critical in its own right, as well as for fostering socio-economic development. ADB is helping to advance gender equality in Asia and the Pacific by committing to gender-inclusive projects in at least 75% of its sovereign and nonsovereign operations by 2030.
Strategy 2030 sets seven operational priorities, each having its own operational plan. The operational plans contribute to ADB’s vision to achieve prosperity, inclusion, resilience, and sustainability, and are closely aligned with Strategy 2030 principles and approaches.
For inquiries, send an email to:
You may contact gender focal points by selecting a department from the dropdown
For queries related to Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and UzbekistanMary Alice ROSERO (Ms) Social Development Specialist (Gender and Development)Office of the Director Tel +63 2 8683 1724 E-mail
For queries related to Mongolia and People's Republic of ChinaVeronica Mendizabal JOFFRE (Ms) Social Development Specialist (Gender and Development) E-mail
For queries related to Cook Islands, Republic of Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and VanuatuMairi MACRAE (Ms)Social Development Specialist (Gender and Development)Social Sectors and Public Sector Management Division
For queries related to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri LankaFrancesco TORNIERI (Mr)Principal Social Development SpecialistPortfolio, Results and Quality Control Unit Tel +63 2 8632 5983 E-mail
For queries related to Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Viet NamElizabeth BURGES-SIMS (Ms)Senior Social Development Specialist (Gender & Development) E-mail
ADB Country Office
You may contact gender focal points by selecting a country from the dropdown