In Asia, women are affected daily by heightened gender inequality, high instances of gender-based violence and low access to education. To combat these issues, four organizations are working diligently to improve the quality of life for Asian women. The International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP), Women’s Fund Asia, U.N. Women and The Asia Foundation are all respectively working toward helping women in Asia and providing them with the resources necessary to thrive.
IWRAW Asia Pacific
Operating from Malaysia, IWRAW-AP focuses on improving feminism. The organization’s mission is to demobilize establishments that violate women’s rights. To fulfill this goal, IWRAW-AP utilizes policy advocacy, online communications, networking and feminist analysis. These methods advance women’s development across the world, including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. IWRAW has also recently been conducting work in Africa and Europe, further widening its influence. Thus, the organization’s efforts have been impactful so far.
IWRAW-AP has administered discussions and legal training sessions with lawyers and judges in Asia for more than 300 legal actors. Additionally, IWRAW-AP held technical training sessions on gender equality. These meetings taught the standards for women’s rights organizations based on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other human rights treaties. Through this initiative, IWRAW-AP emphasized three main strategies to enforce equality for women in Asia. By increasing recognition, knowledge of rights and teaching how to apply strategy to advocacy, the CEDAW convention holds immense power. Overall, it has trained 800 women’s rights leaders, helping to improve the lives of women in Asia.
Women’s Fund Asia
Women’s Fund Asia focuses on improving philanthropy grants. Aimed at supporting girls, women, intersex and trans people, the Women’s Fund Asia provides financial aid to fight for those in need. Moreover, the organization offers application-based grants under three programs to support women in Asia. The first is the Strengthening Feminist Movements initiative. This program provides financial assistance to minority groups in Asian countries.
The second program is called Leading from the South, which utilizes resources administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. This program assists women’s rights organizations through financial aid, primarily in South Asia. Lastly, Linking and Learning is a program that operates differently than the first two resources. The organization supplies travel grants and collaborative events grants for advocacy improvement and workshops related to women’s rights in Asia. Women’s Fund Asia has already had immense success. From 2019 to 2020, grants under Strengthening Feminist Movements amounted to $150,054.
UN Women Asia and the Pacific
Thirdly, U.N. Women is a global organization that centers around creating and maintaining gender equality in Asia. Women in Asia benefit through various focus areas, including, but not limited to, increasing leadership and political participation, furthering economic empowerment and ending gender-based violence. Prioritizing national security and promoting humanitarian action are other major goals for U.N. Women.
To tackle all of these initiatives, U.N. Women backs international political negotiations encompassing gender equality. It also supplies financial aid and knowledge to support women in Asia. Examples of these efforts include the intergovernmental forums at the U.N. In the last two years, collecting funds from the public to directly combat the effects of COVID-19 has been a major focus of the organization. This has included providing sanitary products, food and healthcare for impoverished women in South Asia.
The Asia Foundation
Lastly, The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on the development of Asian countries, including the empowerment of women. Through various programs, the foundation makes education, entrepreneurship and employment more accessible to women in Asia. The foundation also works to supply sufficient leadership training and mentorship.
The Asia Foundation garners funds from a network of developmental agencies, corporations and individuals committed to women’s advancement. Some of the major outcomes in 2020 include implementing legal clinics in Afghanistan and a new employment program to improve women’s technological skills in Malaysia. Another success was the registration of 600 new clients to the Asia Foundation’s Women’s Business Center in Mongolia.
The Importance of Women’s Empowerment
In order to alleviate global poverty and promote gender equality in Asian countries, the efforts of these organizations are necessary for creating change. With the empowerment of feminism, more opportunities are available for women in Asia. As more women gain access to education, enter the workforce and learn essential life skills, women can earn higher incomes that will break cycles of poverty. Furthermore, improved healthcare leads to lower rates of maternal and child mortality.
According to the World Bank, these combined elements can help break the cycle of poverty. As nations become educated and empowered, countries become wealthier. As COVID-19 has impacted millions of Asian girls, initiatives and organizations such as IWRAW-AP, Women’s Fund Asia, U.N. Women and The Asia Foundation have the power to end instances of gender-based inequality. Overall, with more recognition and funding, the cycle of poverty comes closer to breaking.
– Riya Sharma