At the threshold of economic empowerment: Women, work and gender regimes in Asia

This paper provides important insights on the nature of women’s economic empowerment in the region, focusing on the changes and transformations witnessed in recent years.

This study problematizes the salience of transformative change in women’s work and gender regimes in Asia. There are two important dimensions: first, the changing nature of women’s work and the quality of their engagement in both the formal and informal sectors. Second, as a result of such engagement, when women have acquired some autonomy in economic decision-making, what is the impact on gender outcomes? The paper discusses the conceptualization of gender regimes in Asia and women’s economic empowerment, before addressing key gender concerns in planning and policies of economic development, followed by a section on women’s ownership and management of assets. The issues of productivity and economic security are tackled in addition to the challenges women face in accessing finance and local markets. Agriculture and land governance are explored, followed by women’s inclusivity in information technology. The study also provides an analysis of transformative change towards economic empowerment. In conclusion, the paper suggests policy and practice changes in unmediated asset distribution and capability development, which would help overcome gender-based barriers in the economic empowerment of women. Capability development is not just the upgrading of skills; it is a combination of knowledge, skill and effective possession or ownership of productive assets that can be translated into transforming social attitudes and actions.