Women's Political Participation
For more than half a century, The Asia Foundation has been a leader in helping women to realize their potential. We believe that investing in women fundamentally strengthens families and societies. Our Women's Empowerment Program develops women's leadership, strengthens women's organizations, increases women's rights and ensures their personal security, and creates new political and economic opportunities for women across the Asia-Pacific region.
More than a decade ago, The Asia Foundation initiated a regional program explicitly focused on increasing women’s political participation in recognition that women must be engaged as active citizens, educated voters, and effective leaders in order for their concerns to be addressed. While South, Southeast, and East Asian countries have seen an overall increase in the proportion of women represented in parliament over the past ten years, the net increase is a mere 1.8 percent according to a study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The picture is more positive at the local level, where women have been more successful in attaining office, and where quotas in South Asia reserving seats for women have helped increase women’s representation. Additionally, women are increasingly active as voters, an important avenue for women to exercise their rights and obligations as citizens.
The Asia Foundation works to strengthen women’s leadership skills to attain elected and appointed positions in public office and train women’s groups in advocacy and mobilization to advance their key issues and to hold government accountable. The Women's Empowerment Program seeks to build political networks for women in local government, as well as encouraging greater participation of women in electoral processes, including educating them on their rights and responsibilities as voters. Advocacy capacity building is also a key element in our programs, whether as a strategy for passing legislation, raising awareness about risks such as trafficking in persons, or advocating for greater public expenditures for education and healthcare.