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

Featured Stings

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

UN agencies launch emergency plan for millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

Budget MEPs approve €34m in EU aid to Greece, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria

Environment Committee MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

COP21 Breaking News: Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation Announced

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Infinite Oath

Brexit is happening now but the UK hasn’t really assessed the impact of a “no-deal” divorce

“A global threat lies ahead worsened after the EU’s green light to the Bayer-Monsanto merger”, a Sting Exclusive by the President of Slow Food

China repels EU allegations of export subsidies

230 Junior Entrepreneurs and over 70 guests attended the International Congress on “Entrepreneurial Skills for Youth”

Multilateralism: The only path to address the world’s troubles, signals Guterres

Japan to invest in euro values

The Juncker Plan at work: bringing investment back on track in Europe

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Why CEOs need to become activists in sustainability

Central Asia bloc has important role in ‘peace, stability and prosperity’ beyond region, says Deputy UN chief

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: UN Secretary-General Announces “Climate Action 2016” Partnership

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

The EU can afford to invest trillions in support of employment

‘Stronger’ effort must be made to cement peace deal for South Sudanese women and girls: UN Women chief

We know ethics should inform AI. But which ethics?

MWC 2016 LIVE: BT chief aims to be at UK 5G forefront

Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

MEP Cristiana Muscardini @ European Business Summit 2014: International Trade in Europe

Microsoft’s YouthSpark: a kiss of Life to European Youth from the European Parliament

Mark Zuckerberg will be at the European Parliament today to meet President Tajani and the political group chairpersons

Banks can fight financial crime. But we can’t do it alone

Germany openly seeks more advantages for its banks

Mechanism to protect democracy in the EU needed more than ever, says the EP

These are the cities with the biggest carbon footprints

Who really cares for the environment?

Heard about deepfakes? Don’t panic. Prepare

Europe’s dirty air kills 400,000 people every year

Be a part of the World Forum on Future Trends in Defence and Security

EU legislation protecting home buyers approved in Parliament

New EU short-stay visas: more advantages for legitimate travellers

Most ‘precious’ and ‘scarce’ resource of our time is dialogue, UN chief tells Doha policy forum

Paris is building the world’s greenest business district. What can other cities learn from it?

What will Germany look like after the next election?

VW emissions scandal: While U.S. car owners are vindicated, Europe still unable to change its laws and protect its consumers

My unlimited China

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

The issue of health literacy and how it affects European health policies

Colombia: New Congress marks rebel group’s transition ‘from weapons to politics’, says UN

80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

What next after more sanctions against Russia, will the Ukrainian civil war end?

The challenges of mental health among the Syrian medical students

Germany and Europe prepare for Trump’s America

US must abide by humanitarian refugee accords: UN refugee agency

The key takeaways of G7 Summit in Canada

The Ecofin Council creates officially the clan of ‘undead’ banks

Amid strong outlook for U.S. economy, risks abound

Mario Draghi didn’t do it but Kim Jong-un did

5 ways to fast-track the transition to a carbon neutral world

Access to health in the developped and developing world

The global liberal order is in trouble – can it be salvaged, or will it be replaced?

Women in Iceland have walked out of work to dispute the gender pay gap

EU-India summit: Will the EU manage to sign a free trade agreement with India before Britain?

JADE Spring Meeting 2016 highlights

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – MENA in Dubai, in Association with The European Sting

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