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Asia Foundation’s Ulaanbaatar Conference Examines Women and Girls’ Empowerment and South-South Cooperation

Ulaanbaatar, September 21, 2017 — Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls and empowering them to be active participants in society are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Development experts, innovators, activists, and practitioners from governments, corporations, academia, NGOs, and multilateral organizations across Asia gathered in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from September 13-14 to discuss how Asian countries are accelerating opportunities for women and girls through their cooperation programs. This 17th meeting of the Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation (AADC) dialogue was jointly organized by The Asia Foundation, KDI School of Public Policy and Management, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While Goal 5 of the SDGs is a stand-alone goal focusing on women and girls, 11 of the 17 SDGs recognize achieving gender equality as a crucial part of the solution. Unlike the MDGs, the SDGS have been embraced by countries from the north and south, traditional donors, and South-South cooperation providers. The Ulaanbaatar conference is part of an ongoing series examining how Asian countries’ engagement in development and South-South cooperation is changing the global aid landscape.

Participants from Mongolia, Korea, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Japan, Singapore, USA, ASEAN, and the United Nations gathered to share perspectives, strategies, and solutions from the public and private sectors that advocate for women and girls in the areas of health, safety and security, and economic empowerment.

Highlights of the conference included a discussion of how Chinese textile companies are protecting women workers and promoting women’s leadership in the Asia region; how Indonesian women are transferring knowledge about their role in Indonesia’s reformasi with women’s organizations in southern Thailand; how home-based workers across South Asia are collaborating to optimize their role in the supply chain; and why regional infrastructure schemes, like the Asia Africa Growth Corridor, must address gender issues. The meeting included a site visit to The Women’s Business Center and Incubator, a joint venture between the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), The Asia Foundation, and the Ulaanbaatar municipality, which aims to create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs to receive high-quality business support and services. In the center’s first year of operation, the package was accessed over 5,000 times by the member base of 1,000 women.

In previous years, AADC conferences have focused on the changing aid landscape, rising inequality and pro-poor growth, climate change mitigation and adaptation, social mobility, advancing South-South cooperation, the role of NGOs and the private sector and planned urbanization.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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