Click here for search results

Gender in East Asia and Pacific



social banner



Making Women's Voices Count in Natural Disaster Programs in East Asia and Pacific 


Poor Rural Communities Development Project Gender Mainstreaming in China 


Building Capacity to Make Transport Work for Women and Men in Vietnam 


Cambodia: Building on Tradition as the Way to Women's Empowerment in Cambodia



Papua New Guinea: Engendering Mines in Development - A promising approach from Papua New Guinea



Vietnam: Pathways to Development -Empowering local women to build a more equitable future in Vietnam



After the Tsunami: Woman and Land Reforms in Aech


ID gender page 160x80


Smart economies

Gender Equality as Smart Economics: World Bank Gender Action Plan
bullet squareLao PDR: Measuring the Impact of Community-Driven Development Projects on Gender 
bullet squarePhilippines: Making Everyone Count
bullet squareRegional: Gender Dimensions of Community-Driven Development Operations 


bullet square

Gender in the Bank
bullet square 

Gender & Social Assessments/Analyses

bullet square

Gender Equality & the MDGs (476kb pdf)

bullet square

Gender & Economics

bullet square

World Bank Actions Since Beijing

bullet squareGender & Disability
bullet square 


bullet square

Statistical Indicators & Databases

Indonesia: Gender in CDD Projects(pdf)
Lao Wiring reportMaking Electricity Affordable to Women in Lao PDR (Draft)(192kb pdf)

Vietnam Gender Assessment 2006


Gender Equality in East Asia & Pacific

Gender Mainstreaming
bullet square Indonesia 

Youthink logo

anchor link Overview
anchor link East Asia Pacific Approach to Gender Mainstreaming 
anchor link Sample of Curent Gender Related Work  


Gender issues in the East Asia and Pacific Region are multi-faceted and progress varies widely depending on context.  In middle income and emerging middle income countries such as Vietnam, China, Thailand, Philippines, and to a somewhat lesser extent, Indonesia, women are significantly integrated into the workforce. Their contributions to growth, especially in the manufacturing sector have been considerable; and women have benefited from growth and development in terms of reduced gender gaps in health and education.  Here, gender related challenges tend to be related to economic empowerment, employment, and workplace issues, for example related to informal sector workers, feminization of migration flows, work place conditions, and long term social security.  The gender dimension of the impacts of the financial crisis are still unknown, however, according to a recent Oxfam report, women workers in the developing world are paying a heavy price as the global economic crisis unravels their rights, their livelihoods, and their families’ welfare, with knock-on effects that could last for generations. But even in MIC and emerging MICs, women living in remote, rural areas, especially ethnic minorities, are disproportionately worse off compared to major ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, in the poorest countries, and in the most fragile states and sub-national regions in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Lao PDR, Cambodia, remoter provinces of Indonesia, and some Pacific Islands – the disparity between women and men in economic and health outcomes remains high.  Women’s access to basic services, resources, and infrastructure are limited, as well as their opportunities for economic empowerment and participation in community and national development debates. Benefits from natural resources in which many of these areas are rich are not distributed equitably and women tend to be bare the cost of social and domestic conflicts and natural disasters.

One major issue that persists throughout the region in countries at all stages of development is that  women’s voice in formal decision-making remains weak – the number of women sitting in national elected parliaments in the region has changed by less than 2 percent since the early 1990s. Women struggle to be elected in democratic systems, they are often overlooked for promotions in civil service, especially when these are not based on merit alone.  The growing trend to decentralization has moved decision-making down to levels at which women’s voice is often weakest and where even the women’s civil society movement, which has been a powerful advocate at national level, struggles to organize and be heard. 

Back to top


EAP’s approach to gender mainstreaming is carried out in line with OP/BP 4.20 on Gender and Development and the Bank’s Gender Selling FruitsMainstreaming Strategy.  Hence, the approach is centered around supporting actions towards the strategic mainstreaming of gender, through a process that is country-specific and country-led, with the Bank playing a supportive but pro-active role.

A Three Pillar Approach

For gender mainstreaming to be strategic, however, it also needs to be selective, especially given the scarce resources available for gender mainstreaming.  The region’s approach to gender mainstreaming therefore, aims to capitalize on the space where there is overlap between a need for gender responsive development, country ownership of gender-responsive development and where the World Bank also has a comparative advantage. While the Bank’s strategy on gender mainstreaming provides the overall direction for this work, it is suggested that in moving forward, the region’s approach to gender issues should be more closely aligned with EAP’s Regional Strategy for supporting shared and sustainable growth. Such closer alignment would allow regional synergies to be further harnessed and the gender work to feed more directly into regional priority areas.  Specifically, a three pillar approach– based on three of the four pillars of the Regional strategy– is proposed:

Pillar 1: Partnering with middle income countries and emerging middle income countries to sustain and share gains in growth and prosperity: This pillar will broadly focus on managing and better understanding the gender implications of fast growth and development, with a focus on women’s exclusion from and participation in the growth process. In line with the regional strategy, this pillar will examine the social impacts of increased growth and prosperity on women and men especially as it  relates to migrant workers.  Developing mechanisms for the  social protection for vulnerable households in rural (and increasingly urban) areas will be stressed. Opportunities will also be sought to integrate interventions into activities that aim to improve access to finance and resources for women in the informal sector and women entrepreneurs. Also, this pillar would focus on monitoring social and gender impacts of sustained (or reduced) growth, and activities that prepare for economic recovery, such as mainstreaming gender into community driven development programs and infrastructure projects.

Pillar 2: Supporting the developmental underpinnings for peace, renewed growth and poverty reduction in the poorest and most fragile regions: This pillar will allow the gender program to make a concerted effort in the poorest and most fragile situations in EAP, where gender issues and disparities also tend to be greatest.  Again, in keeping with EAP strategic objectives, the focus of this pillar will include gendered analyses of poverty impacts and social tensions as they relate to poor and fragile states.  This includes countries which have high poverty and relatively weak institutions (such as Lao PDR and PNG); but also those which are still struggling to overcome the legacy of conflict (Cambodia) or face on-going risks of insecurity (Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands).  This pillar will focus on building capacity and accountability for gender responsive development and support crosscutting issues such as gender inequalities among ethnic minorities. The community driven development portfolio is seen as a key vehicle for reaching remote women and empowering them (including legal empowerment), and lessons will be learned from the more advanced countries and applied in the poorest and most fragile countries.  As well, work aimed at better understanding the gender implications of the financial and food crisis, and climate change and ensuring that the support provided in these areas is gender responsive will also be included.

Pillar 3: Providing a platform for knowledge management, exchange and dissemination on gender responsive development within the region. The EAP region has already been successful in generating high quality and high impact gender work. Good lessons and practices are emerging.  This pillar will capitalize on the work that is being done and focus on providing a multifaceted platform for knowledge sharing.  This  platform will support both “south-to-south” knowledge exchanges and will contribute to EAP’s growing role in fostering and disseminating global best practices. As well, gender aspects will be added to other core AAA and ESW, with the overall objective of influencing policy dialogue and operations.  


 Back to top


father holding kidThe EAP Gender program has been fairly robust over the past years with a careful mix of diagnostics and operational support. . Following a period when the gender program focused on those countries where the in-country demand for support to improve gender equality was greatest (Vietnam, Thailand, China, Philippines), a deliberate effort has been made in the last few years to focus resources and target countries where gender gaps are greatest but where the least gender work had been done (Lao, PNG, Timor Leste).  This was in response to concerns about progress in meeting MDG 3. Our objective in the short-term is to balance this focus.


Some of the noteworthy work in these countries has been funded by the Gender Action Plan and can be seen in Bank operations in sectors that have traditionally not been closely associated with gender issues (for example the Rural Electrification Project in Lao PDR, Mining TA Loan and the work in PNG, Workfare Project in Timor Leste), where gender specialists have worked closely with task teams to mainstream gender issues. A number of activities were also designed to fund activities addressing specific gender issues such as the Papuan Women’s Empowerment Project, the Women and Mining initiative in PNG, and the Adolescent Girls Initiative in Lao and PNG.

In countries, where the gender program had already been established previously, the work was decentralized to the country gender coordinators who were encouraged to help task teams access resources from other sources, examples include the Poverty Reduction Support Credit in Vietnam which contained gender-related targets, the Community Driven Development Projects in Indonesia and Philippines, and the Land, Social and Economic Development project in Cambodia. There are also numerous good examples, particularly in the Human Development sector, of operations that are addressing key gender issues such as gender disparities in education and high levels of maternal mortality without additional specific gender support, (for example the Cambodia Education Support Project).  Activities designed to focus on specific gender issues in these countries included the Female Headed Household Program (PEKKA) and the Female Migrant Worker Program in Indonesia and the Mekong Bamboo Initiative in Lao and Cambodia.

In terms of analytical work, basic country level diagnostics were carried out through the Country Gender Assessments (CGAs) that were conducted for most countries within the past five years.  Continued robust analysis has been done in Vietnam including on the situation of ethnic minority women via the Country Social Analysis which includes a gendered analysis of the latest household survey.  Vietnam has also carried out a study on the impact of women’s early retirement. In Indonesia the analytical work focused on migration and remittances with the Malaysia-Indonesia Remittance Corridor Study.

Instruments and examples of recent Gender Work in EAP.


Examples of recent activities

Gender Mainstreaming Operations and ESW

Ÿ Mining Projects in PNG and Lao PDR

Ÿ LASED Project in Cambodia

Ÿ ESW: Country Social Analysis, Vietnam

Ÿ ESW: Malaysia-Indonesia Remittance Corridor Study

Gender Specific Activities

Ÿ Empowering Female Migrant Workers, and the Papuan Women’s Empowerment Project in Indonesia;

Ÿ Mekong Bamboo Initiative in Lao PDR and Cambodia

Ÿ Bougainville Women and Peace, PNG

Analytical Work and Impact Evaluation to influence policy dialogue

Ÿ Study on Women’s Early Retirement Age, Vietnam

Ÿ Cambodia Gender Assessment

Ÿ Impact of  CDD programs on Gender Equality and women’s empowerment, regional

Ÿ Regional work on impact of the financial and food crisis on women (EASPR)

Advocacy and Awareness raising

Ÿ Note on gender situation in EAP Beijing +10

Knowledge sharing and dissemination

Ÿ Gender and Infrastructure conference in Manila


Back to top



Permanent URL for this page: