Asian Development Bank (ADB) today launched Asia Women Leaders Programme (AWLP) to address a glaring absence of women from leadership roles in Asia and the Pacific.

“The programme will dissect why there are so few women leaders in the region and explore how this can be changed through targeted public policies and programmes,” said senior advisor on Gender at ADB Shireen Lateef. “The programme will also build participants’ personal capacity and confidence as leaders, providing them with tools to navigate the world of mostly male leaders, Lateef said, adding that it will refresh their communication, negotiation and coalition building skills so they can rise through the ranks to become future leaders.

Women are largely absent at the top echelons of the public and private sectors in the region, despite recent advances in addressing gender imbalances in the workforce.

In the corporate sector, the World Economic Forum reports that women comprise less than six per cent of company board members in Asia and the Pacific, compared with 15 per cent in the United States and 17 per cent in Europe.

Twenty-five senior women government officials from 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific will join the programme, mostly from finance and planning ministries. The programme will provide targeted leadership training for senior government officials in areas such as effective communication and negotiation, to help them overcome barriers faced by women as they progress in their careers.

The programme is cohosted by ADB and the Seoul-based Korean Women’s Development Institute. It was launched today at a workshop in Seoul featuring eminent Asian women sharing their personal journeys and insights.

Speakers at the four-day workshop include minister of Women’s Affairs in Cambodia Ing Kantha Phavi; chair and chief executive officer of Industrial Bank of Korea Kwon Seon-Joo and former CA member Sapana Pradhan Malla.

ADB supports a range of initiatives to reduce gender disparities and empower women in the region. Supporting the meaningful participation of women in decision-making at national, local and household levels and promoting women’s leadership is a priority of ADB’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Operational Plan.

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