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Closing Asia-Pacific's Gender Gap Would Boost Region's GDP - Report
Source:Chinese Women's Research Network | Release Date:2018-5-25-
Title: Closing Asia-Pacific's Gender Gap Would Boost Region's GDP - Report
Source: China Daily
Release Date:
Keyword: Asia-Pacific, Gender Gap, Boost, Region, GDP, Report

There is a lucrative charm in advancing women's equality: countries of the Asia- Pacific region could add $4.5 trillion to their collective annual GDP by 2025, a 12 percent increase over the business-as-usual trajectory.

In particular, pursuing gender parity could bring the biggest GDP opportunity to China, which, in a best-in-region scenario, would see its economy swell by $2.6 trillion, or 13 percent above business as usual, according to research released by McKinsey last month.

The added sum to China's coffers through closing the gender gap in work and in society would slightly outpace France's economy in 2017.

By presenting the 240-page report analyzing high gender inequality in the region and detailing deliverable ways for change, McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, is doing a laudable public service, paying tribute to women's power to be unleashed for growth and the well-being of society.

Asia Pacific is a global engine of growth. Women can help and are helping to power this engine, and contributing to sustaining and enhancing Asia's growth and lifting more people out of poverty, said Jonathan Woetzel, director of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), and his nine colleagues who prepared the report.

Yet large gaps remain in many countries in the region on gender equality both in workplace and in social life, they said in the report:"The Power of Parity: Advancing Women's Equality in Asia Pacific".

"From an economic perspective, trying to grow without enabling the full potential of women is like fighting with one hand tied behind one's back," the report said.

The report focuses on seven countries - Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore - which are home to more than 80 percent of the region's female population and account for 90 percent of the total $4.5 trillion estimated GDP opportunity in the 18 Asia-Pacific economies.

In addition to examining the status quo of gender inequality in these countries, the research is valuable in that it investigated the cross-cutting issue of women in leadership positions in business and suggested measures that would help to raise the number of women in companies from the entry level to middle management and to the boardroom.

The MGI analysis looks at gender equality in four areas: work, healthcare, education and financial and digital services. They are also vital enablers of economic opportunity, legal protection, political voice and physical security and autonomy, which is the right of women to be safe from bodily harm.

The discussions in the report are of particular significance to China, which it says accounts for 35 percent of the region's female population, and women contribute an above-average 41 percent to GDP.

In his speech to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last October, President Xi Jinping said, "We must adhere to the fundamental national policy of gender equality and protect the legitimate rights and interests of women and minors."

The McKinsey institute compiles a Gender Parity Score (GPS) to measure the distance a country has traveled toward parity, which is set at 1.0. China scores 0.61, the same as the global average, but slightly higher than the Asia-Pacific region's average of 0.56.

It said China does well on female labor-force participation, but the country can improve its share of women in leadership, which stands at 0.2, meaning only one woman for every five men in leadership roles.

In the US, the share of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies topped 5 percent for the first time in the first quarter of 2017, according to a Pew Research Center release.

For change in gender parity to happen in Asia Pacific, the report proposed policymakers, companies and NGOs focus on higher female labor-force participation in high-quality jobs as a priority to boost economic growth, while improving women's representation in business leadership positions.

In addition, they should strive to improve women's access to digital technology; and shift social attitudes about women's role in society and work, to underpin progress on all aspects of gender inequality.

Last but not the least, they should collaborate on regional solutions, such as financing and knowledge-sharing, as powerful catalysts for gender equality.

For China, the report suggested the country build on its emerging strength in women's entrepreneurship in the e-commerce and technology sectors to continue to encourage more women into professional and technical fields and into leadership positions.

Indeed, the economic dividend from advancing women's equality is attractive for China and every other country of Asia Pacific and in fact, the rest of the world.

(Source: China Daily)




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