UN Women – United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

UN Women – United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Asia and the Pacific

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Our Programme

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 Issue

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.

Our Vision


  • 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. 

WeEmpower Map 

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

WeEmpower Map

Our Solutions

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 an enabling business environment for women.
  • Promoting women-owned businesses and gender-inclusive entrepreneurship.
  • Advancing gender-inclusive business cultures (Women’s Empowerment Principles).

In short, the programme has adopted a three-pillar holistic approach to work:




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.

WEA Bulletin Vol1


COVID-19 Updates & Approach

Guidance Notes for Action



Entrepreneurship Survey

Update in progress. 


Employee Survey

Update in progress. 


Top Resources

Browse our resources, tools and more below.

Guidance Note for Action: Women as a Force for Accelerated and Inclusive Economic Recovery Post-COVID-19 in Asia-Pacific

This brief introduces a strong gender perspective to the COVID-19 crisis and response and provides recommendations on how to apply a gender-responsive approach to the post-pandemic challenges to ensure accelerated, inclusive and sustainable recovery... more

Guidance Note for Action: Gender-Sensitive Private Sector Response to COVID-19 for Accelerated and Inclusive Economic Recovery

Declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is already having major, differentiated impacts on women. The private sector not only has a responsibility to protect the rights of all its employees and workers and to support women across their entire value chains, but also directly benefits by doing so... more

Guidance Note for Action: Supporting SMEs to Ensure the Economic COVID-19 Recovery is Gender-Responsive and Inclusive

This Note, the third in a four-part series, shows how the barriers women entrepreneurs already face in starting and retaining a business are likely to increase in the aftermath of COVID-19. Those barriers include less access than male entrepreneurs to information and communications technology, financial services and assets, legal rights, business management skills and networking opportunities. more

Guidance Note for Action: Addressing the Emerging Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Migrant Women in Asia and the Pacific for a Gender-Responsive Recovery

Concluding the four-part guidance note series, this paper focuses on the emerging impacts of the pandemic on women migrant workers and recommendations to support governments, donors, civil society organizations, employers and the private sector in addressing those impacts... more

#WomenRiseAboveCovid Social Media Campaign

The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on women at home, at work and on the frontlines. Lend your voice to acknowledge, engage and empower all the women out there by sharing our social media package on Twitter and Facebook. Unity is key to overcoming this challenge. Download the social media package here.

Get Involved

Subscribe to our bulletin and latest updates here.

Take the WEPs tool
Sign the WEPs CEO Statement of Support
Check out resources on women’s entrepreneurship here.
Follow our hashtag #WeEmpowerAsia and join the conversation on social media.
Check out policy briefs and other resources on women’s economic empowerment here.


For more information, please contact:



[1] Global Gender Gap Report 2020. World Economic Forum 2019

[2] Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Asia Pacific. McKinsey Global Institute 2018.

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.


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Telkomtelstra Indonesia Chief Financial Officer Ernest Vincent Hutagalung speaks on the benefits of having more women in business.

Katherin Kirschenmann, Founder and Chief Programme Officer, The Do School (Germany), speaks on the business case for women’s economic empowerment.

Nadira Mohd Yusoff, WeEmpowerAsia Advocate and Chief Executive Officer of Kiddocare, explains why women are a potential boost to the ASEAN regional economy.

Yosayut Sahawatcharin, Vice-President Human Resources Unilever Thailand, shares why women’s economic empowerment makes good economic sense in the region.

More videos

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