New report urges for collective action to unleash the benefits of implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles in ASEAN

Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2021

[Press release]

Bangkok, Thailand – Better cooperation between the private and public sector will be key to closing the gender gap in business across ASEAN, according to a new report released by UN Women today. In particular, this will require accountability mechanisms, reporting and monitoring of gender-specific targets, and the development and implementation of gender-responsive regulations.

The new report titled ‘Ecosystem Landscaping to advance the Accountability to implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles in ASEAN’, shows that the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) by businesses significantly contributes to establishing a more standardized, consistent and transparent system of collecting and monitoring gender data. Advocating for the promotion and implementation of the WEPs, UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia programme and the International Labour Organization’s Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme, funded by the European Union, produced the report in partnership with Value for Women.

“Businesses can take meaningful action to support women’s economic empowerment and ensure these efforts are transparent, measured, reported and aligned to gender-inclusive policies and practices that create greater accountability,” said Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women for Asia and the Pacific, stressing the importance of policymakers and regulators in providing a concrete guidance and monitoring system for the private sector to lead changes in equality.

Across the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), countries on average have shown remarkable economic growth and achieved higher living standards in the past decades. Yet, gender gaps remain in labour-force participation, representation in leadership positions, and many other areas, hampering the economic empowerment of women.

The new report recommends a comprehensive review of all ASEAN public sector policies and strategies linked to the WEPs and provides an actionable framework ‘The WEPs Public Policy Roadmap’. The research also informed the development of a new global gender-reporting framework for the private sector, titled The WEPs Transparency & Accountability Framework, a tool to improve reporting practices for responsible business in the workplace, marketplace, community, and society at large.

Highlighting the collective responsibility of the private sector in implementing the WEPs in line with its Gender Action Plan launched last year, Igor Driesmans, Ambassador of the European Union to ASEAN, stressed the need for a shared strategic vision and close cooperation: “We all must accelerate progress towards gender equality by supporting the economic, social and political empowerment of women and girls. We encourage the private sector to take action, too, and for companies in ASEAN and the EU to ensure gender equality.”

“There is indeed an immense opportunity to create more gender-inclusive trade value-chains between the EU and ASEAN. This is important not only to advance faster to building a truly gender-equal world, but achieving this will also lead to increased human capital wealth and GDP in both ASEAN and the EU. We must all do our part, take responsibility and show leadership by making gender equality a priority and following up with actions and results,” said Driesmans.

“The end goal is to have more concrete actions that close gender gaps in private sector leadership, employment and entrepreneurship,” said Luis Marquez, Gender and Private Sector Advisor, Value for Women, explaining that the WEPs Public Policy Roadmap will provide policymakers with an actionable framework to both incentivize WEPs-related reporting by companies and to improve the enabling environment for gender equality in the private sector.

Highlighting existing gender gaps and inequalities in the private sector in ASEAN, the report suggests systemic guidelines to help the private sector efficiently report on the WEP thematic areas. They include:

  • Establishing high-level commitment for gender equality in government and business;
  • Improving the enabling environment for women in the private sector such as by implementing the ‘WEPs Public Policy Roadmap’; and
  • Incentivizing and mandating business transparency and accountability from gender-reporting.

Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, Regional Director of ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific welcomed the publication. “This report is a valuable resource for businesses in ASEAN. It highlights how the Women’s Empowerment Principles are an effective tool which can also help support the implementation of ILO’s labour standards and drive equality in the world of work.”

Read the full Ecosystem landscaping to advance the Accountability to implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) in ASEAN report here:


Katja Freiwald
Regional Programme Manager, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Fredy Guayacan Benitez
Programme Manager, Responsible Supply Chains in Asia,
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Luis Marquez
Gender and Private Sector Advisor
Value for Women Ltd.