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Game changers: Women and the Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific

International Labour Organization


Other Countries Asia Pacific Australia Myanmar Vietnam The Philippines Indonesia


Workplace Gender Equality

Women's economic empowerment Workplace Gender Equality Women in the workplace Future of work

Game changers: Women and the Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific

Game changers: Women and the Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific

The Game Changers: Women and the Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific report from the International Labour Organization examines the situation of women in the region and analyses progress and obstacles in terms of gender equality in the world of work.

This report looks to the future and the potential of decent work to transform the lives of women and men in a future of work which leaves no one behind. The report draws attention to opportunities for progress, practical measures and outlines some potential drivers of future labour market transformation.


  • Globalisation and women’s work, both inside and outside the home, paid and unpaid, have fuelled the rapid economic transformation in the Asia-Pacific region over the past few decades. Major progress has been made in poverty reduction, educational achievement, industrialisation, household incomes and economic growth – much of which has been driven by the greater economic engagement of women. Additionally, more and more women can be found in business and management roles, generating jobs and hiring more gender balanced teams. Yet, persistent and stubborn gender gaps in the labour markets of the region are slowing overall progress.
  • Countries across the region are facing significant opportunity costs associated with gender inequality. Evidence is accumulating that closing gender gaps significantly boosts gross domestic product (GDP). Closing gender gaps in labour force participation rate by 25 per cent could add as much as $3.2 trillion to the overall Asia Pacific GDP. However, GDP is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gender equality-related impacts, which can be found in enterprise performance, innovation, productivity and profitability. In addition to economic returns, these gaps will impede full progress on development, women’s empowerment and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • More than 64 per cent of women who are employed in the region are in informal employment. While a sizeable proportion of men are also present in the informal economy, women tend to be concentrated in the poorest segments of informal employment. Also, the female share of vulnerable employment remains high, especially in Southern Asia, at 79 per cent in 2017. In Eastern Asia, it dropped slightly to 32 per cent, though in South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific, it has stagnated, at around 52 per cent in 2016–17.
  • Women in the region experience deeply rooted direct and indirect discrimination that prevents them from enjoying the same rights and opportunities as men. This, in turn, affects their labour market outcomes. Discrimination is even more pronounced where gender inequality intersects with other characteristics, such as ethnicity, indigenous status, caste, disability and gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Gender-biased norms and attitudes in the labour market continue to constrain women’s visions and opportunities. Related to this, occupational segregation, both horizontal and vertical, are endemic in the region. It generally confines women to occupations with lower pay, worse prospects for advancement and poorer working conditions.


  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Executive Summary
  • Abbreviations
  • Section 1
  • Introduction 1
    • ILO centenary initiatives
    • Promoting better outcomes for women and the future of work in Asia and the Pacific
  • Section 2
    • Grounds for pursuing gender equality
    • Persistent inequalities in the labour market
    • Major obstacles To equality In labour markets in the Asia-Pacific Region
    • Selected drivers of future labour market transformation in the region
  • Section 3
    • Transform adverse gender norms and attitudes
    • Amplify women’s voice, representation and leadership
    • Recognise and redistribute unpaid care work
    • Ensure equal opportunities and treatment of women in future jobs and sectors
    • Reinforce accountability for progress on gender equality in the world of work
    • Conclusion
  • Annexes
  • References
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Investing in Women