Women’s Leadership in the ASEAN Region | Works

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Community Vision 2025 of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). They are also key to fostering a more sustainable and inclusive region. Providing women with equal access to decision-making power and leadership not only supports their well-being, but also enables their contribution to regional progress and inclusion.

The data, however, shows that substantial progress is needed to empower a new generation of ASEAN women leaders. This factsheet explores, through available official statistics, the different leadership roles that women play in the ASEAN region, and highlights areas where improvements are needed.

The report showed that in the 10 ASEAN countries as a group:

  • The share of female managers has only increased by 2 percentage points in 20 years (from 39% in 2000 to 41% in 2020), while the share of middle and senior managers is well below 26%.
  • In political governance, women hold 22% of seats in parliament, but women ministers are often relegated to leading committees on gender equality and women’s affairs.
  • Even though women make up 67% of healthcare workers, frontline responders to the pandemic, only 11% of chief executives of the region’s largest hospitals are women, and ASEAN’s health ministers are all men, with the exception of the one from Vietnam.
  • Women headed only 6% of environment and related ministries in 2020. Other opportunities to participate in environmental decision-making could enable them to promote environmental conservation, including indigenous women, who are generally holders of traditional ecological knowledge.

Mara R. Wilmoth