ASEAN: Gender Disparities in Economic Access Exist

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) said that gender disparities in access to economic opportunities have continued to persist across ASEAN, which creates a specific set of challenges to the start-up, development and internationalization of women-owned businesses, which result in untapped economic potential and missed development opportunities.

    The statement was made at a dialogue between the ASEAN SME Working Group (SMEWG) and the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive Small-and-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on reducing gender disparities in entrepreneurship and enterprise development, which was was held on November 6, in Bangkok.

    ASEAN aims to address the gaping disparity by establishing the Regional Policy Dialogue on Empowering Women Entrepreneurs to Advance ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Development, which brings together ASEAN SMEWG, ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network(AWEN) members, as well as international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as representatives from private-sector stakeholders, where participants are encouraged to share good practices, success stories and lessons learned in fostering women entrepreneurship and enterprises.

    Participants also encouraged to share their recommendations on how to incorporate gender mainstreaming to enhance women's entrepreneurship and enterprise for SMEWG's consideration in framing the ASEAN SME Strategic Vision and Action Plan (2016-2025) and its Implementation Roadmap for 2016-2020.

    According to studies conducted by ASEAN, women still own disproportionately fewer firms and female-owned businesses are often smaller in scale, and tend to dominate in the informal sector at the bottom of the enterprise pyramid, where profits tend to be marginal compared to male-owned businesses. (*)