The European Union (EU) and UN Women jointly launched a three-year WeEmpower Asia programme on Friday to encourage the private sector to expand economic participation and business opportunities for women in seven Asian countries: Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam.
Funded by the EU, UN Women will implement an €8 million (Bt284.9 million) programme aiming to integrate gender concerns into business practices in the region. UN Women is the more commonly used term for an arm of the UN called the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
The goal of the programme is to achieve three major objectives: promote dialogue among women’s groups - and discussions in both the public and private sectors - so as to enable an environment that empowers women; provide skills training for female entrepreneurs to engage with businesses, policy-makers and decision-makers; and support companies to adopt what the two organisations are calling “Women’s Empowerment Principles”.
“Women’s economic empowerment is a pre-requisite for inclusive and equitable economic growth,” said Ambassador Mara Marinaki, the EU’s Principal Advisor on Gender. “It can drive gender equality outcomes and broader intergenerational benefits for women, their children, households and communities.
“Women who are economically empowered have greater access to income and economic assets, better control over their own economic gains and more equitable decision-making power to translate these gains into social, economic and health benefits for themselves, their families and their societies.
Anna-Karin Jatfors, UN Women’s Acting Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said: “Women make crucial contributions to the region’s economies. WeEmpower Asia will create transformative partnerships between private sector companies, female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses, and policymakers to drive social change. It will benefit not only women, but also societies and economies as a whole.”
The EU and UN Women are already working together on women's economic empowerment in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as at G7 level, under two other programmes that are being implemented simultaneously: “Win-Win ¬- Gender equality means good business” and “WeEmpower - promoting economic empowerment of women at work through responsible business conduct”.
These programmes and WeEmpower Asia launched on Friday are concrete examples of EU's commitment to gender equality and are its response to an increasingly global movement that urges companies, suppliers and consumers to work together to strengthen the voice and participation of women at work.