Donors have attempted little to improve women’s participation and conditions in the ASEAN workforce.
Isolated cases highlight some findings:
- Success stories include donors action through: national policies (Cambodia); mandatory monitoring of working conditions (Cambodia); gender-sensitive design and evaluation of projects (Viet Nam, Cambodia); capacity development for women’s micro and small enterprises (Laos, Philippines); school-to-work transition (Philippines); and creating an enabling environment for rural smallholders (Laos). Donors frequently cited in these cases include the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
- Donors have obtained mixed results in other programmes, such as the promotion of equality and decent work by the ILO (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand), and border-gate economic zones supported by the ADB (Viet Nam).
- Broader qualitative or mixed-method studies from academic sources offer critical perspectives on structural issues with donor-supported action. One example from tourism in Laos shows that the division of labour can remain gendered and disadvantage women even in pro-poor, community-based development projects.
- One example in the agricultural sector in Thailand demonstrates the importance of combining class, gender, culture, migration and citizenship for meaningful analyses of women’s labour.
- An analysis of women’s position in the Malaysian labour market since the 1970s brings to light the gendered nature of both production and reproduction, and the contradictions that increased labour participation by women create for gender equality.
Donors that have been occasionally active on the issue include: ADB; ASEAN and the ASEAN Foundation; ILO; IOM; UNDP; and UN Women. Donors that have shown an interest in the issue include: the Canadian aid agency; FAO; OECD; UNESCAP; UNIDO; UN OHCHR; USAID; and the World Bank.
Combaz, E. Donor action on women&#8217;s employment in ASEAN countries (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1142). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 15 pp.