As the world marked International Women's Day on March 8, stakeholders and observers alike have noted that significant steps have been made in Asia but more still needs to be done.
In Thailand, for example, The Nation said that while Thai women are being given opportunities that used to be only for men, the country still needs to try harder in advancing women's rights and protection.
It noted the presence of women in government and business, with about 37 per cent of all senior management roles in Thailand held by women. The two other states that ranked well were the Philippines (39 per cent) and Indonesia (36 per cent).
Thailand also lauded women and women's groups as human rights champions: Pinnapa Preuksapan, the wife of missing Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongchaeron; Bangkok Post reporter Achara Ashayagachat; the Women’s Group for the Protection of Community Rights from Loei’s Mining Operations; and the Su Cheewit women’s group.
In Hong Kong, China Daily noted that the past year posted no improvement for women in terms of taking leading positions in listed companies with only 11.1 per cent, or 71 director positions, held by women. Two thirds of the top firms showed no improvement over the year at all, whereas all-male boards went up from 14 in 2015 to 16 this year, the latest survey released on Tuesday by Community Business, found. Community Business is a non-profit organisation pushing for inclusive business practices.
In an opinion published in The Jakarta Post, meanwhile, UN resident coordinator in Indonesia Douglas Broderick said a disproportionate number of the country's poorest people are women. "Around 6.5 million out of over 125 million Indonesian women are illiterate, twice as many as men. Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo doubled to eight the number of female Cabinet ministers, but less than 20 per cent of seats in national Legislature are held by women, Broderick wrote.
But it's all not a hopeless scenario. In Bangladesh, startups led by women entrepreneurs have already started to show signs of strength, according to The Daily Star.
Asian women are also making their mark in the international scene, like Thai animator Fawn Veerasunthorn, who is among the team behind Disney's "Zootopia". Fawn works in the renowned production company under ed a woman and three of her colleagues are Filipinas, The Nation wrote.
Certainly, there have been breakthroughs and great strides made to protect women and boost their role in society, and the movement continues. In Malaysia, the human rights commission has urged the government to put in place gender equality legislation in order to improve and promote equality for both men and women.