East Asia does well in gender equality, South Asia does poorly: UN report

08:15, March 09, 2010      

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A United Nations report said on Monday that among Asia and the Pacific countries, East Asian countries are doing very well in realizing gender equality, while South Asian countries are doing poorly.

Releasing the report on the International Women's Day, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said in its 2010 Asia- Pacific Human Development Report that discrimination and neglect are threatening women's very survival in some countries of the Asia-Pacific region, especially South Asia and in some Southeast Asian countries.

In some countries of the region, women still suffer from some of the world's lowest rates of political representation, employment and property ownership, while their lack of participation is also depressing economic growth, said the UNDP report.

"Empowering women is vital for achieving development goals overall, and for boosting economic growth and sustainable development," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark here when presenting the Report: Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific.

"Policy needs to advance gender equality, so that women as well as men can benefit from job creation and investments in social infrastructure," she said.

In countries such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia conservative estimates show that GDP would increase by up to 2 percent to 4 percent annually if women's employment rates were raised to 70 percent, closer to that of developed countries, said the report.

The report said there exists sharp contrast in women's status between South Asia and East Asia.

Nearly 70 percent of women are in paid work in some countries in the region, such as China, Cambodia and Vietnam, well above the global average of 53 percent, said the report.

In South Asian countries like India and Pakistan, fewer than 35 percent of women do paid work, said the report.

South Asia often comes in second worst in the world in gender equality measures, just above sub-Saharan Africa, while East Asia often fares better in health, education, and employment, said the report.

Almost half the adult women in South Asia are illiterate, which is the world's worst performance, while East Asian and Pacific women's literacy rates are above the global average, it said.

South Asian women can expect to die five years earlier than their men. And more women die in childbirth there with 500 for every 100,000 live births there, more than in any other part of the world except sub-Saharan Africa, said the report.

Source: Xinhua
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