WeEmpowerAsia is a joint programme by the European Union and UN Women aimed at increasing the number of women who lead and participate in private-sector businesses in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, thereby advancing inclusive and sustainable growth along with stronger links between European and Asian markets through gender-sensitive trade and supply chains.
The Asia-Pacific region has undergone tremendous economic and social transformation in recent decades, as countries witnessed significant reductions in extreme poverty and increases to incomes and opportunities leading to progress across various Sustainable Development Goals. Yet rising prosperity has not been shared equally, and there are clear signs of the growing inequality within and between countries.
While the region has experienced strong economic growth, women’s labour force participation rate remains significantly lower than men’s. Progress on women’s empowerment has been slow and the economic gender gap remains particularly deep. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 finds that it will take another 100 years to close the global gender gap. That wait increases to more than 71 years in South Asia and 163 years in East Asia and the Pacific.1
When guaranteed equal opportunity, choice and access to resources, women’s full participation will multiply the capacity of the whole of society. By advancing gender equality, countries in the region could add US$4.5 trillion to their collective annual GDP by 2025, a 12 per cent increase over their business-as-usual GDP trajectory2. This data estimation is a strong indicator of the business case for women’s economic empowerment: a higher level of women’s economic participation means higher economic growth.
Recognizing the potential of women as a catalytic force for further socio-economic development, the WeEmpowerAsia programme works to advance women’s equality and gender-equal business opportunities in target countries.
- Promotes 7 Women's Empowerment Principles;
- across 7 countries in Asia;
- activating 700 companies;
- catalyzing 700 women entrepreneurs;
- impacting 700,000 people (employees, consumers and entrepreneurs);
- mobilizing 70 influencers; and
- contributing to at least 7 policy dialogues in the region.
Connected by their common goal, the programme furthermore leverages synergies and opportunities for cooperation with its two other EU-UN Women ‘sister programmes’ in the Latin American and Caribbean region (Win-Win) and in the G7 countries (WeEmpower) that are being implemented simultaneously.
The programme activities will enable core stakeholders and partners to collaborate, create and implement policies and initiatives that better meet women’s needs and rights in the economy, be it women as employees, managers or business owners.
Geographic Coverage: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam
Implementing Partners: UN Women and the European Union
Duration: 36 months (2019-2022)
Total Funding: 8,000,000 Euros
WeEmpowerAsia’s main focus is on building a strong base of partnerships at and across the regional and country levels for women’s economic empowerment, including by:
- Creating enabling business environment for women.
- Promoting women-owned businesses and gender-inclusive entrepreneurship.
- Supporting companies to implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
In short, the programme has adopted a three-pillar holistic approach to work:
Women’s Empowerment Principles
WeEmpowerAsia is strongly anchored in the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a set of Principles offering guidance to business on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Established by UN Global Compact and UN Women, the WEPs are informed by international labour and human rights standards and grounded in the recognition that businesses have a stake in, and a responsibility for, gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Download the CEO Statement of Support.
By joining the WEPs community, the CEO signals commitment to this agenda at the highest levels of the company and to work collaboratively in multistakeholder networks to foster business practices that empower women. These include equal pay for work of equal value, gender-responsive supply chain practices and zero tolerance against sexual harassment in the workplace.
WeEmpowerAsia works with the private sector in the target countries to translate these principles into concrete actions, including by encouraging businesses to analyze their current initiatives; identify gaps and areas for improvement; set benchmarks and reporting practices; and establish gender-responsive policies and practices to realize gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of their 'WEPS' journey'.
The WeEmpowerAsia bulletin features stories, events, announcements, publications and resources as well as updates on the implementation of the regional programme. Subscribe to our bulletin and latest updates here.
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This website is produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regional Programme WeEmpowerAsia and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.