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UNFPA Calls On Partners In Asia-Pacific To Redesign The World For Women

Bangkok, 09 May 2024 

More than half of the world’s 8 billion people are women and girls, but the world fails women when it comes to their safety, health, and wellbeing. Alarmingly, only 1% of the global USD 2.4 trillion in healthcare research and innovation was invested in female-specific conditions beyond oncology. Evidence suggests that the design and development of science, technology and financial solutions are often lacking in gender equity across industries. Science, medicine, and engineering often take the young, Caucasian, 70kg male as the norm. This lack of women’s inclusion results in gender-blind products and in a gap in women-centric solutions. This must change – the world must seize the opportunity to empower women and girls in all their diversity.

Comprising 60 percent of the world’s adolescents and young people, the Asia and Pacific region holds immense potential to shape a better future for all. Yet, less than 1 in 4 female researchers are represented in the science, technology, engineering and math industry in the Asia Pacific region, which is lower than the global average of almost 1 in 3. Additionally, women and girls, specifically in South Asia, are less likely to have access to technology, use the internet, or own a smartphone compared to men, widening the gender digital divide.

The Equity 2030 Alliance is the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) global effort to accelerate gender equity in science, technology and financing by 2030, envisioning a world of infinite opportunities for all. Calling on partners across Asia and the Pacific to accelerate actions in redesigning the world for women, the UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Office launched ‘Equity Alliance 2030’ in Bangkok today.

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Delivering the opening remarks, Mr. Pio Smith, Regional Director for UNFPA Asia and the Pacific said, “We can all agree that the world is not designed for women. But the good news is that we can redesign it through our actions, through policies and through investments. The world can progress only when all women and girls have access to gender equitable services, and an equitable future can only be achieved if advances in science and technology include and address the needs of all.”

The launch brought together members of the diplomatic community, development partners, private sector, and academia. It also featured a focused discussion with prominent speakers from the health, financing, education, and digital industries on actions that can be taken to ensure that gender equity is integrated in the design of products, policies, and solutions.

As an existing member of the Equity 2030 Alliance, Roche Pharmaceuticals, represented by Ms. Hang Thi Thu Le, APAC Policy and System Shaping Lead, Singapore, noted, “Women’s health deserves urgent attention and action due to women’s important roles not only in families but also in the economy and society at large. We look forward to working with UNFPA’s 2030 Equity Alliance to close the equity gaps in APAC and drive a positive impact on the lives of women and their loved ones.”

Speaking at the launch, Ms. Amanda Satterly, Principal Social Development Specialist for Gender and Development of the Asian Development Bank, based in the Philippines, highlighted the need for gender responsive products and services to drive a more equitable economy, "We need to unlock women’s full potential by designing health, digital, technological, and financial products and services that cater to women’s specific needs. ADB has been working closely with governments and the private sector to design solutions that respond to women’s needs, ensuring they have access to and benefit from enhanced products and services in areas such as reproductive health, improved banking services, and safety features in transport apps."

Speaking on the advancements of Air Asia’s MOVE app to be more gender-inclusive, Ms. Nadia Omer, CEO of AirAsia MOVE, based in Malaysia said, “Gender equity means inclusive growth that unleashes untapped potential by understanding gender specific needs and barriers, while also using innovation, creativity and opinion leaders to unlock new and marginalized demand pockets. Ultimately what we want is to help change minds, behaviors and norms in our society, for the better! At AirAsia MOVE, we want to create inclusive, safe and delightful journeys where women play an active role in shaping the travel industry.”

Looking ahead, Ms. JiaJia Khwanchanok Paka-Akaralerdkul, Youth Advocate for Gender Equality and Girls' STEM Education and ASEAN Youth Organization Ambassador, based in Thailand, called for more women-centred solutions to be developed that unlock the potential of young girls. She mentioned, “Young people need to be given the space and opportunities to pursue both their education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The more young people we have in these fields, the more likely we are to have innovative and gender-inclusive solutions. This is when we can truly make a change in the world.”

The Equity 2030 Alliance envisions a world of equal opportunities for all and through its launch in Asia and the Pacific, UNFPA calls on all partners to join the initiative. The actions by members of the alliance could be an initiative, project, policy, investment target or any other effort that integrates gender equity at all stages of product solutions development. By taking action, members can contribute towards a world of infinite opportunities, ensuring that everyone can exercise their rights and choices and realize their full potential. 

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