However, women in the Asia- Pacific still have a long way to go to overcome the challenges to their empowerment. They face many barriers in their quest for equal pay, establishing their business and endeavors in other fields.
This is not attributed to legal barriers alone, but also to some cultural norms across the region that denigrate women and treat them differently because of their gender.
Such bias undermines women’s dignity and hinders their economic participation.
Indeed, the evidence clearly shows that female entrepreneurs across Asia encounter many obstacles. The World Bank’s 2010 Economic Opportunities for Women in East Asia and Pacific Region notes that while laws in the region show parity for men and women on paper, institutions often fail to implement these laws faithfully, and workplace policies and regulations are often too restrictive and unfriendly toward women.
To better understand and address the economic, policy and cultural barriers to women’s empowerment and economic entrepreneurship are vital for the growth and development of the region. Hence, BPW-Taiwan is taking the lead to fight the problems. During the three-day conference and the subsequent “twinning” activities, BPW-Taiwan will bring together business and professional women in the Asia-Pacific to promote both bilateral and regional networks of businesswomen, skills development and dialogue. Through discussions and brainstorming sessions, they can compare notes, exchange experiences and learn from others’ “success stories.”
Shirley Chang, associate professor emeritus and department chairwoman of library and information science at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and former senior research fellow of Taiwan’s National Science Council, is convener of the Public Relations and International Affairs Committee of BPW-Taiwan.