The state of gender inclusion in Asia-Pacific’s regulatory landscape

December 12, 2023


The state of gender inclusion in Asia-Pacific’s regulatory landscape

December 12, 2023

Harsheen Sethi

Senior Analyst, Social Development, Trade & Geopolitics, Economist Impact

Harsheen Sethi is a Senior Analyst with Economist Impact’s Policy and Insights team. She is a specialist on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), human rights, countering conflict and violence, foreign policy, and new globalisation. She works on cross-country policy research, strategy, and advocacy projects aimed at creating impact.

Notable projects include Out of the Shadows Index measuring child sexual violence regulations; Building disaster resilience: A study of disaster events and financial lending streams; NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index; and The Procurement Imperative.

Sethi holds a Master’s in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, where she served as a Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies Fellow, leading the working group on critical infrastructure vulnerabilities in cyberspace and contributing to research on countering violent extremism (CVE) in the US. She also holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University Noida, India, where she specialised in development communication.

The state of gender inclusion in Asia-Pacific’s regulatory landscape is a report developed by Economist Impact and sponsored by AVPN.

The report aims to illustrate the gender policy landscape for gender inclusion in Asia-Pacific and spans four sectors: access to education and healthcare, and workforce and political participation. It encourages a greater focus on gender-inclusive policies, laws and regulations by detailing current drivers of change, where there are still challenges, the institutions that are involved and the opportunities for change, in each sector and across sectors.

The report uncovers several key findings highlighted below:

  • Policy recognition of the gender spectrum is an emerging strength in the region: As a starting point, countries in the region have begun reforming legislations that include all genders and grant them equal rights in the four sectors.
  • Dedicated financing for gender mainstreaming is enabling equality: APAC countries are stepping up financing efforts through extensively applied gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) approaches at the national and international levels. For example, the Philippines’ inclusion of gender in development planning and budgeting is emerging from the best practices around GRB in the region.
  • The coverage of existing policies is limited to certain demographics, leaving out people at intersections: Despite an array of policies for greater gender inclusion, policies tend to not always capture those experiencing marginalisation due to the intersection of various sources of inequality. For example, a large number of women cannot benefit from contributory social insurance schemes as they lack informal sector coverage.
  • There is a need for policies countering online and offline gender-based violence in the region: Particularly online, even where bullying and anti-harassment policies are available, measures to either criminalise or penalise such behaviour on digital platforms as well as in public spaces, especially political spaces, are lacking within these.
  • Missing data on gender across sectors limits decision-making and results in missing policies and inadequate coverage: Data on gender is not consistently collected, tracked and analysed for policy development in the region. This also aggravates the exclusion of people at intersections.
  • Socio-cultural norms and traditional views of gender roles limit implementation: Harmful perceptions prioritising family unity in case of gender-based violence “which should be preferably resolved within the family”—which are also embedded in laws, traditional views of marriage without legal rights to contest it, and education and employment opportunities differing based on gender contribute to the gender inclusion gap across the region.
  • Digitalisation, education and partnerships offer pathways to parity: The ecosystem for bridging gender gaps within and across sectors involves creating new opportunities to level the playing field for all genders from the earliest stages of education to introduce generational change. Digitalisation offers another opportunity to overcome the barriers in access and availability across sectors, with public-private partnerships at its core.

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