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Women in the Workforce: An Unmet Potential in Asia and the Pacific

This report shows that the low labor force participation of women is intimately related to how they allocate time between market and nonmarket activities. Indeed, in deciding whether to work outside of home, women of whatever education or socioeconomic status tend to put more weight on the need to care for their children and dependents. This choice is reinforced by social norms that emphasize domestic tasks as a woman’s primary responsibility and, in some countries, also constrain women’s social activities and mobility. In some places in Asia and the Pacific, these norms severely limit the possibility for women to achieve wage or income growth or to engage in productive entrepreneurial activities, or both. Thus, policy makers need to focus on the specific reasons behind the gender gap so they can develop and implement effective policies for improving female economic empowerment. This will go a long way in leveling the playing field between men and women as well as unleash a country’s full potential for sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

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Additional Info

Field Value
Document type Analysis, discussion papers, and blogs
Language of document
  • English
  • Economy and commerce
  • Social development
Geographic area (spatial range)
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Timor-Leste
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Korea (Democratic People's Republic of)
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Viet Nam
Copyright No
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This work is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 IGO license (CC BY 3.0 IGO) By using the content of this publication, you agree to be bound by the terms of said license as well as the Terms of Use of the ADB Open Access Repository at This CC license does not apply to non-ADB copyright materials in this publication. If the material is attributed to another source, please contact the copyright owner or publisher of that source for permission to reproduce it. ADB cannot be held liable for any claims that arise as a result of your use of the material.

Version / Edition 1
License CC-BY-3.0-IGO

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Author (corporate) Asian Development Bank
Publisher Asian Development Bank
Publication date 2015
Date uploaded March 14, 2018, 03:53 (UTC)
Date modified March 14, 2018, 08:13 (UTC)