Gender equality key to restoring Asian economies

Diplomatic Correspondent

1 October, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Business leaders and policymakers at a regional event in Thailand on Wednesday said that top priority must be given to empowering women in the workplace for Asia and the Pacific region’s economic recovery from Covid-19 damage.

The CEOs of 110 companies in Thailand signed and announced new commitments to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) during a ceremony to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the principles, according to a message of UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok.

They committed to broaden and strengthen gender-responsive business practices, including gender-equal corporate leadership, inclusive, safe workplaces and equal pay for work of equal value.

More than 3,600 companies worldwide have signed the WEPs, established by UN Women and United Nations Global Compact. Before Wednesday, only 11 companies in Thailand had signed on.

Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Labour Narumon Pinyosinwat said the event will help boost women’s labour force participation in Thailand. She said women now make up 45 percent of the country’s total workforce.

But it is estimated that by 2040, up to 17 million jobs (44 per cent of all jobs) in Thailand could be at risk of automation – and due to gender inequality, women are more likely to lose those jobs. That is why the Ministry of Labour has made women’s economic empowerment a top priority, Narumon said.

 “The framework of [UN Women’s] WeEmpowerAsia programme is a leading example through which we can work together, to make our voices heard, and reinforce the  gender-inclusive business culture and narrow gender gaps across industries,” she said.

Pirkka Tapiola, EU Ambassador to Thailand, commended the 110 companies at the event for their collective commitment and presented the EU’s perspective on how gender equality charts a direct path towards inclusive growth.

Thailand has done comparatively well in putting women into the highest positions in business. 24 per cent of CEOs or managing directors in Thailand are women, compared to an average of 20 per cent worldwide and only 13 per cent in the Asia-Pacific. Thailand has the world’s highest percentage of female chief financial officers – 43 per cent – and the third-highest percentage of female CEOs.