Monday, April 12, 2010

Gender Issues: Discrimination, neglect threatening women's very survival in the Asia-Pacific region

Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - While Asia and the Pacific can take pride in the region's vibrant economic transformation in recent decades, this has not translated into progress on gender equality.

Discrimination and neglect are threatening women's very survival in the Asia-Pacific region, where women suffer from some of the world's lowest rates of political representation, employment and property ownership. Their lack of participation is also depressing economic growth.

Those were some of the findings of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report launched today in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan witnesses gender inequalities on the three areas targeted in the report – economic, political and legislative – due to many structural and social restrictions." said UNDP Resident Representative and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Afghanistan, Robert Watkins in presenting the Report: Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific. "this report presents an opportunity to reconsider Afghanistan's economic and policy opportunities in terms of gender equality."

"While lack of data remains a main challenge for representation of Afghanistan on the regional and global human development assessments, contribution from the UNDP Center for Policy and Human Development has been very valuable as, for the first time, Afghanistan is studied in the regional context from a human development gender-related lens." Mr. Watkins added.

"In conflict settings and post-conflict countries, women's roles are largely ignored. Women's inclusion can bring better insights in studying conflicts and reconciliation potentials. Furthermore, post-conflict countries cannot achieve peace, reform and rehabilitation with the exclusion of women from peace agreements and post-conflict development," said Mr. Watkins. "This Report is an opportunity for Afghanistan to draw lessons learnt from the regional context and address its local gender-related issues presented in the report." he concluded.

The report focuses on three key areas—economic power, political decision-making and legal rights—to analyse what holds women back, and how policies and attitudes can be changed to UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. foster a climb toward gender equality. Asia, the Report asserts, is standing at a cross-road and by putting the right policies in place now, countries can achieve positive change.

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