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Gender Equality and Development

ADB is working across Asia and the Pacific to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and reduce poverty and contribute to green, equitable and inclusive development.

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.

Addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequality
Weaving is a traditional handicraft in Viet Nam’s Thua Thien Hue province. Photo: Tran Viet Tuan/ADB

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.

Climate action and gender
Working at a solar farm in Lombok island, Indonesia. Photo: Achmad Ibrahim / ADB

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.

Making cities more livable
Testing equipment at the School of Art and Science of Mongolia’s National University. Photo: Eric Sales / ADB

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.

Rural development and food security
A female farmer in Nepal. Photo: Samir Jung Thapa / ADB

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.

Strengthening governance and institutional capacity
Loans have enabled small businesses to ramp up operations and offer women job opportunities in Azerbaijan. Photo: Daro Sulakauri / ADB

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.

Operational Priorities

Strategy 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.

Experts

Samantha Hung
Samantha Hung

Chief of Gender Equality Thematic Group

Zonibel Woods
Zonibel Woods

Senior Social Development Specialist (Gender and Development)

Contact

For inquiries, send an email to:


ADB Department

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 Uzbekistan

Mary 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 China

Veronica 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 Vanuatu

Mairi MACRAE (Ms)Social Development Specialist (Gender and Development)Social Sectors and Public Sector Management Division
  E-mail
Amanda SATTERLY (Ms)Senior Social Development Specialist (Gender & Development)  E-mail

For queries related to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka

Francesco 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 Nam

Elizabeth 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

Afghanistan Resident Mission  E-mail
Ketevan CHKEIDZE (Ms)12th Floor, JSC Cartu Building39A Chavchavadze Avenue0162 Tbilisi, Georgia  Tel +995 322 250619 to 21  E-mail
Ketevan CHKEIDZE (Ms)12th Floor, JSC Cartu Building39A Chavchavadze Avenue0162 Tbilisi, Georgia  Tel +995 322 250619 to 21  E-mail
Nasheeba SELIM (Ms)Sher-e-Bangla Nagar 1207 Dhaka, Bangladesh  Tel +63 2 8632 6000 to 8  Fax +880 2 815 6018/19   E-mail
Chandy CHEA (Ms)No. 29, Suramarit Boulevard (St. 268) Sangkat Chaktomuk, Khan Daun PenhP.O. Box 2436 Phnom Penh, Cambodia  Tel +855 23 216417  Fax +855 23 215807   E-mail
Zhuoga CIWANG (Ms)17th Floor, China World Tower No.1 Jian Guo Men Wai Avenue, Chaoyang District100004 Beijing, People's Republic of China  Tel +86 10 8573 0909  Fax +86 10 8573 0808   E-mail
Ketevan CHKEIDZE (Ms)12th Floor, JSC Cartu Building39A Chavchavadze Avenue0162 Tbilisi, Georgia  Tel +995 322 250619 to 21  E-mail
Deepa AHLUWALIA (Ms)4 San Martin Marg, Chanakyapuri110021 New Delhi, India   Tel +91 11 66145423  E-mail
Malika SHAGAZATOVA (Ms)20th Floor Astana Tower Business Center12 Samal Microdistrict010000 Astana, Kazakhstan   Tel +7 717 2325 053/54  Fax +7 717 2328 343  E-mail
Gulfia ABDULLAEVA (Ms)52-54 Orozbekov Street720040 Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic   Tel +996 312 624192  Fax +996 312 624196  E-mail
Theonakhet SAPHAKDY (Ms)Corner of Lanexang Av. and Samsenthai Rd.P.O. Box 9724 Vientiane, Lao PDR   Tel +856 21 250 444  Fax +856 21 250333  E-mail
Tsolmon BEGZSUREN (Ms)2nd Floor MCS Plaza, Seoul Street 4210644 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia   Tel +976 11 329836  Fax +976 11 311795  E-mail
Suman SUBBA (Ms)Srikunj, Kamaldi Ward No. 31P.O. Box 5017 Kathmandu, Nepal   Tel +977 1 422 7779  Fax +977 1 422 5063  E-mail
Uzma ALTAF (Ms)Level 8, Serena Business Complex, Khayaban-e-Suhrwardy44000 Islamabad, Pakistan   Tel +92 51 2600351 to 69  Fax +92 51 2600365 to 66  E-mail
Nelun GUNASEKERA (Ms)23 Independence AvenueColombo, Sri Lanka   Tel +94 11 2674499  Fax +94 11 2674488  E-mail
Gulnora KHOLOVA (Ms)07-5 Nozim Hikmat Street734001 Dushanbe, Tajikistan   Tel +992 372 271895/97  Fax +992 372 244900  E-mail
Elsty DAVIDZ-MORATO (Ms)ADB Building, Rua Alferes Duarte ArbiroDili, Timor-Leste   Tel +670 3324 801  Fax +670 3324 132  E-mail
Mekhri KHUDAYBERDIYEVA (Ms)1 A Khodjaeva Street100027 Tashkent, Uzbekistan   Tel +998 71 140 1920 to 25  Fax +998 71 140 1976  E-mail
Giang Thanh NGUYEN (Ms)Units 701-706 Sun Red River Building, 23 Phan Chu Trinh StreetHoan Kiem District, Ha Noi, Viet Nam   Tel +84 43 933 1374  Fax +84 43 933 1373  E-mail

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