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Gender and Development

Gender equality and women's empowerment are essential for meeting Asia and the Pacific's aspirations of inclusive and sustainable development. ADB recognizes that to reduce poverty rates, helping women and girls must be a priority in its work.

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Operational Plan 2019-2024

In September 2019, ADB approved the Strategy 2030 Operational Plan for Priority 2: Accelerating Progress in Gender Equality, 2019­–2024 which is the second of its seven operational priorities in Strategy 2030. This operational priority recognizes that gender equality is critical in its own right as well as for helping realize socioeconomic development. It is imperative that ADB contributes to the efforts of accelerating gender equality outcomes in Asia and the Pacific. ADB is committed to support gender equality through gender-inclusive project designs in at least 75% of its sovereign and nonsovereign operations by 2030.

The gender operational plan is fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which ADB and its developing member countries have committed to support. 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.

Under the gender operational plan, ADB focuses on five strategic priorities: (i) women’s economic empowerment increased, (ii) gender equality in human development enhanced, (iii) gender equality in decision making and leadership enhanced, (iv) women’s time poverty and drudgery reduced, and (v) women’s resilience to external shocks strengthened.

The five strategic priorities are being addressed through five approaches: (i) scaling up gender mainstreaming in operations across sectors and themes; (ii) integrating SDG 5’s transformative gender agenda, including eliminating violence against women and girls; recognizing, reducing, and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work; emphasizing sexual and reproductive health and rights; encouraging women’s participation in decision making and leadership; creating access to economic and productive resources, information and communication technology, and legal or institutional reforms for protecting women’s rights; and changing gendered social norms; (iii) enhancing gender mainstreaming in nonsovereign operations; (iv) tackling multiple gender inequalities simultaneously through integrated solutions; and (v) developing the capacity of developing member countries and clients.

Results under the Strategy 2030 Operational Plan for Priority 2: Accelerating Progress in Gender Equality, 2019–2024 are monitored under ADB’s corporate results framework and reported annually in the Development Effectiveness Review.

Contribution to Operational Priorities

To address operational priorities, ADB offers integrated solutions combining expertise across a range of sectors and themes. These solutions will be delivered through an appropriate mix of public and private sector operations that are best suited to the specific needs on the ground.

The following are gender's contributions to ADB's operational priorities.

Addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequalities

  • Reduce gender gaps and build resilience of women, particularly among poor households and socially excluded groups.
  • Support decent and productive jobs for women through explicit attention to gender equality in enabling policy and legal frameworks; greater financial inclusion for women in microenterprises and SMEs, combined with financial literacy, business skills, mentoring, and networking support; enhanced opportunities for SMEs owned and led by women in public procurement; workplace gender equality; and work–life balance by reducing and rebalancing unpaid care, domestic work, and time poverty.
  • Continue to reduce gender gaps, particularly in education completion; support girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in secondary and tertiary education; use education to reduce gender stereotypes and to promote sexual education and school hygiene; improve school-to-work transitions and enhance job-ready skills for young women through TVET, digital literacy, soft skills, and skills in nontraditional and higher-paying trades and sectors; and encourage gender-equal access to lifelong learning and re-skilling programs.
  • Address women’s priority needs in affordable and quality health care services and health financing; expand support for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights; and reduce early pregnancy and marriage, and sex-selective abortions.
  • Address women’s needs in elderly care services and pension reforms; target poor women for conditional cash transfers; target women in low-income and vulnerable households for disaster, conflict, food insecurity, and economic recovery social assistance and public resource allocation; build finance safety nets for women; and use gender-inclusive digital identification for social finance inclusion and access to basic services.

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Tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability

  • Assist developing member countries in accelerating integration of gender equality in national and subnational policies, strategies, and action plans on climate change and disaster risk management in line with global commitments.
  • Expand green and brown job opportunities for women and access to finance for women-owned and women-led green businesses.
  • Support the engagement of women in addressing ocean health issues and benefiting from blue economy opportunities (e.g., through support for expanding inclusive livelihood and business opportunities in sustainable tourism and fisheries).
  • Build women’s resilience to climate change and disaster impacts and environmental degradation through greater access to climate-smart technologies; diversification of livelihoods and asset building; disaster insurance and other financial safety nets; participation in community-led solutions (e.g., early warning systems, community infrastructure designs, and use of knowledge in nature-based solutions); enhanced knowledge, preparedness, and skills; and active participation in related decision-making process at all levels.

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Making cities more livable

  • Encourage women-friendly city designs.
  • Promote women’s participation in urban planning and governance.
  • Mainstream gender in urban transport.
  • Support women’s employment and entrepreneurship.
  • Apply smart technology that incorporates the special needs of women.
  • Considering that the urban migrant population comprises more than 50% young women, support cities to include provisions for this group to create spaces to meet and discuss their problems.

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Promoting rural development and food security

  • Support rural infrastructure and technology that reduce women’s time poverty; enhance women’s safety, mobility, and affordability concerns; and/or maximize marketing opportunities.
  • Expand women’s job opportunities in agribusiness value chains and access to finance therein.
  • Improve productivity of women farmers through training and skills development in climate-smart agriculture technologies, practices, and crop varieties; improved access to rural finance, land, and other rural assets and productive resources; and participation in community-based groups to boost women’s voices in natural resource management. Enhance women’s voices in food security and safety decision making.

Strengthening governance and institutional capacity

  • Empower women by equipping them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude to participate in decision-making processes and the development agenda.
  • Address the practical and strategic needs of women; identify societal and institutional constraints to political and socioeconomic empowerment.
  • Formulate and implement policies and regulations that will enable greater gender inclusiveness in government institutions.
  • Mainstream gender and development in all stages of the project cycle (i.e., project identification, implementation, monitoring and evaluation).
  • Develop indicators, measures, and standards for gender and development.

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Fostering regional cooperation and integration

Support women’s jobs and entrepreneurship in regional trade and tourism, as well as infrastructure development (including special economic zones) in border towns. Integrating gender equality provisions in regional policy dialogues in trade, tourism, agricultural value chains, education, skills, and labor markets, and regional health through subregional cooperation platforms.


Policy on Gender and Development

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.

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.


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 as a sound framework for ADB’s support to its developing member countries in promoting and 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:

Since 2006 annual GAD progress reports are prepared to assess and report on Policy implementation and experience.

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