ESCAP Report Identifies Four Pathways to Women’s Leadership
UN Photo/Bernadino Soares
story highlights

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific has published research on how to promote and strengthen equal opportunities for women to take leadership roles in political, economic, and public life (SDG target 5.5).

According to in-depth interviews with 17 women leaders from 14 countries, to become leaders women must have: access to productive resources, such as agricultural land; a supportive family environment and positive role models; informal opportunities to take leadership roles; and temporary special measures such as gender quotas for parliaments.

ESCAP member States have pledged to make gender equality and women’s empowerment a central issue of the regional policy agenda.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has published research on the keys to ensuring that women take leadership roles in political, economic and public life (SDG target 5.5). The report recommends that governments and others support four pathways for women: education and consciousness raising; access to resources and opportunities; laws and policies such as quotas and gender-based budgeting; and ending discriminatory practices.

The 102-page report titled, ‘Pathways to Influence: Promoting the Role of Women’s Transformative Leadership to Achieve the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific,’ discusses the quality and impact of women’s leadership, arguing that women’s leadership can lead to the kind of transformative change that is envisaged in the 2030 Agenda. According to the report, SDG target 5.5 is a driver for progress on other targets on gender equality; women’s presence in government leads to higher turnout of women voters, increased gender-sensitive policies, including in social, health and safety services, and greater profits in business.

Women’s presence in government leads to higher turnout of women voters, increased gender-sensitive policies and greater profits in business.

The authors draw on numerical data, prior qualitative research and in-depth interviews with 17 women leaders from 14 countries. They find that the gender gap in the Asia-Pacific region remains large: inhibiting factors include the risks of violence and harassment of women, the disproportionate burden of unpaid household and care work; and “imposter syndrome,” which is experienced  even by high-achieving women accustomed to being in the public spotlight. In 2019, women ministers represented just 12% of all ministerial posts in the region, and women in parliament accounted for 20% of all parliamentarians.

ESCAP’s interviews with women leaders in the region, undertaken for this report, highlight the importance of women having: access to productive resources, such as agricultural land; a supportive family environment and positive role models; informal opportunities to take leadership roles, for example, in faith-based organizations and member associations; and temporary special measures such as gender quotas for parliaments.

The authors caution that, while leadership development courses can be useful for women, such initiatives need to be contextualized to take account of local conditions and processes. They also note that challenging gender-based norms will require the involvement of men as well as women.

The report was prepared under the auspices of the UN Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. ESCAP member States have pledged to make gender equality and women’s empowerment a central issue of the regional policy agenda. [Report landing page] [Publication: Pathways to Influence: Promoting the Role of Women’s Transformative Leadership to Achieve the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific]

related posts