Economic development in Indonesia and other countries in East Asia is contingent on reducing gender inequality, a World Bank report says.
The report, “Toward Gender Equality in East Asia and the Pacific,” released earlier this month, notes that while gender equality has increased across the region, disparities remain in several important areas.
Speaking at a discussion on the report in Jakarta on Monday, lead author Andrew Mason said promoting gender equality in economic opportunities would promote better development outcomes, including higher productivity, increased growth and faster poverty reduction.
“The East Asia and Pacific region is vast and diverse, with large differences in economic and social progress — including toward gender equality,” said Mason, who is the lead economist and regional gender coordinator for the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific region.
“In some ways, women in the region are better positioned today than ever before to participate in, contribute to and benefit from development, but much more needs to be done.”
The report examines the gender dimensions of global economic integration, information and communication technologies, migration, urbanization and aging, all of which are generating both opportunities and risks for gender equality.
“Policymakers in the region need to understand why progress in closing gender gaps has been mixed and to implement corrective policies where gaps persist,” Mason said. “At the end of the day, gender equality is both an important development objective in its own right as well as good development policy.”
Sri Danti Anwar, secretary of the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry, said at the discussion that violence against women remained one of the major obstacles to gender equality.
She said other factors hampering progress included a lack of awareness among the authorities about the importance of gender equality, as well as a strong patriarchal tradition.
Sri said the government was committed to gender equality, and that women’s participation in running small and medium enterprises remained at 41 percent.
“Their purchasing power is also lower than that of men, although there has been an increase,” she said, adding that this correlated with the fact that women earned half of what their male colleagues did for equivalent jobs in the private sector.