Tackling the toxic norms that hold women back in Asia

Women 2018 UN

UNHCR/V. Tan UNHCR staff speak with refugees from Myanmar in a shelter for women and children in Songkhla, southern Thailand.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer, Plan International

Asia is an economic success story. It has made dramatic strides in reducing poverty, increasing wellbeing and lifting future prospects for millions of people.

But history stands still for no nation or region. There will always be more work to do to ensure that development gains, even the most impressive ones, will be sustained not just for this generation but for the next.

Right now, Asia’s girls are missing out. In a region where girls often outperform boys at school, are more educated than ever before, and make up the majority of students in tertiary education in some countries, their ability to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution is still being restricted. This is because the people currently creating the systems of education, production and governance that drive it are predominantly men. Inevitably these “new” systems are likely to resemble the old and risk widening the gender gap further, hindering women and girls’ access to, use of and ability to benefit from technology.

Worldwide, the proportion of women using the internet is 12% fewer than men, which increases to 32.9% in less developed countries. This gap is symbolic of a larger problem of the digital exclusion of women and girls, which we must address before it is too late.

Complex challenges

It is well recognised that Asia faces serious challenges as it looks to the future. The region will face big demographic shifts, including both aging and youth bulges, alongside the disruptive forces of artificial intelligence and automation that are transforming the workforce and employment opportunities.

A new report by Solutions for Youth Employment highlights that this digital transformation is having a profound and specific impact on young people. It is altering the way they learn, their access to opportunities and their job security and could drive further inequality. In these fast-changing times, a failure to invest in the potential of girls will make these challenges yet harder to address.

The current gender gap in ICT starts in early youth, continues through the formative years and enters the workplace, where it hinders not just women but the future economic prospects of everyone. It is the product of harmful gender norms and stereotypes that result in a multitude of setbacks for girls, including unequal access to quality education and training, especially in science, technology, engineering and maths. It is also a result of our collective failure to keep girls and young women safe from threats like early marriage, exploitation – including online threats – and sexual violence.

In the growth and high-value sectors in Asia, such as technology and digital, women are woefully under-represented, and far less likely to reach senior positions. Just a third of all management positions are held by women in ASEAN. Women in Asia are also expected to undertake 4.1 times the amount of unpaid labour and care work as men, according to the ILO. The global cost of unpaid care work undertaken by women is a staggering $10 trillion.

Skilling up women to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Accenture predicts we could reach gender equality in the workplace by 2040 in developed countries and by 2060 in developing countries if we up the pace at which women become digitally fluent. But the sad truth is that girls are five times less likely to consider a career in technology or ICT.

If Asia hopes to benefit from the big opportunity of digital equality, we need to do more than just talk about getting girls involved in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We must change track to give girls the tools, skills and opportunities they need to succeed in and – critically – drive a digital future.

We need to start by empowering women and girls as creators and leaders of this future. We need to ensure they can create the technologies that help us avoid the replication of old gender stereotypes and inequalities in the digital space. By opening up more opportunities and more flexible ways of working, and building safe infrastructure, we can give girls the opportunity to learn the skills they need to become the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. But none of this will be possible until we tackle the specific gendered discriminations, exploitations and dangers they face every day.

Disrupting the status quo

When jobs are scarce, how can it be right for people to believe that men have more of a right to a job than women? It’s toxic norms like these that prevent girls taking part as equals in societies that need to be broken down. And we need to make sure the laws, policies and infrastructure are in place to ensure girls can access training, financial resources and jobs in safety, without fear of violence, harassment and discrimination. And we need to challenge the perception that technology is not for women or girls, and encourage more of them to study these subjects beyond secondary education.

We must all play our part

Our role now is to step up and support young womens’ careers. By upskilling girls to become more digitally fluent, we can help them take their place as leaders in the growth sectors of the future. By acting as mentors, we can support help give them a voice at the table and open up more spaces for women within our management structures.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Britain, EU take edgy steps to unlock Brexit talks as the war of words rages

VW diesel scandal and climate change: can increased independent car checks lead to cleaner mobility?

How to survive and thrive in our age of uncertainty

UN commission agrees roadmap on ensuring women’s social protection, mobility, safety, and access to economic opportunities

We generate 125,000 jumbo jets worth of e-waste every year. Here’s how we can tackle the problem

Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Guterres calls for restraint in Venezuela, Jazz Day, the importance of breastfeeding, and updates from Libya, Iran and Mozambique

European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

This is how companies are working together to create a world without waste

Pharmaceuticals in the environment: Commission defines actions to address risks and challenges

Opening Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU at the Chinese Fashion Night

The EU parliamentary elections, explained

From DIY editing to matchmaking by DNA: how human genomics is changing society

China by numbers: 10 facts to help you understand the superpower today

Switzerland to favour EU citizens in immigration quotas as the risk of a new referendum looms

Trump’s blasting win causes uncertainty and turbulence to the global financial markets

5 things you need to know about creativity

Intel, Almunia and 1 billion euros for unfair potatoes

Refugee crisis update: Commission still in panic while Turkey is to be added in the equation

Cambodia’s schools are the new frontline in the battle against climate change

Most US students aren’t learning about climate change. Parents and teachers think they should

UNICEF delivers medical supplies to Gaza in wake of deadly protests

Food choices today, impact health of both ‘people and planet’ tomorrow

Can indoor farming feed the world?

TTIP’s 11th round major takeaways and the usual “leaked” document

UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

4 ways blockchain will transform the mining and metals industry

Boris ‘single-handed’ threatens mainland Europe; can he afford a no-deal Brexit?

Finland must focus on integrating migrant women and their children to boost their contribution to the economy and society

We can build a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Here’s how

Dozens of children at risk as clashes in Hudaydah near hospital – UNICEF

EU security and defence industry prepares positions for ‘producers’ and ‘customers’

International community agrees on a road map for resolving the tax challenges arising from digitalisation of the economy

Deal on tightening the rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

Primary Healthcare: Back to the Basics

Chart of the day: These countries have the largest carbon footprints

Egypt urged to free prominent couple jailed arbitrarily since last June: UN rights office

Europe might not avoid new partitioning on Ukrainian crisis

Governments adopt UN global migration pact to help ‘prevent suffering and chaos’

Protecting European consumers: toys and cars on top of the list of dangerous products

VW emissions scandal: EU unable to protect its consumers against large multinationals

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “Europe must listen to the people”

Brexit talks started with a London handicap and Brussels’ sternness

To meet development goals, UN agriculture agency ‘cannot only focus on tackling hunger anymore’

Algorithms could give the world its first ‘born digital’ free trade agreement in Africa

The 10 most common types of plastic choking Europe’s rivers

Innovating together: connectivity that matters at ITU Telecom World 2019 – in association with The European Sting

Health: The neglected aspect of climate change

Millions at risk if Syria’s war moves to last redoubt of Idlib, warns senior aid official

We have the tools to beat climate change. Now we need to legislate

Schengen: MEPs adopt their position on temporary checks at national borders

Youth unemployment: think out of the box

A day that Berlin and Brussels would remember for a long time

Reject passivity and embrace ‘responsibility for our future,’ Lithuania’s President tells UN Assembly

Eurostat confirms a dangerously fast falling inflation in Eurozone

Why banks escape from competition rules but not pharmaceutical firms

Eurobarometer: Not a single answer about what the Banking Union will cost to citizens

The world to teach Germans to…un-German

“Airbnb and YouTube are two great examples of a crowd based capitalism”, key stakeholders outline the boundaries of the 4th Industrial Revolution in Davos

Madagascar: UN chief commends leaders, State institutions following ‘historic milestone’ election

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s