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Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality

The Asia Foundation practices an integrated approach that promotes gender equality across all programs. We have transformed thousands of lives through evidence-based programs that focus on expanding women’s economic opportunities, increasing women’s rights and security, and advancing women’s political participation.


  • Greater women’s political voice and leadership
  • Increased opportunities for women’s education, employment, and entrepreneurship
  • Improved women’s rights and security, including reduced gender-based violence
  • Greater equity, inclusion, and opportunities for vulnerable groups


Expanding women’s economic opportunities

Through education, entrepreneurship, vocational training, and scholarships we equip women with the knowledge and skills to earn an income and break into higher-paid employment sectors. In the workplace, we address constraints faced by women entrepreneurs, providing networking opportunities, mentoring, access to information and credit, and business management training. Working alongside local partners we foster environments where women can advocate for improved policies.

Increasing women’s rights and security

We work with individuals and communities to change norms that perpetuate gender-based violence and the exploitation of women and girls. We engage government and civil society to strengthen laws, legal systems, and other response mechanisms to increase access to justice and improve service delivery. A leader in the fight against human trafficking, The Asia Foundation has pioneered initiatives to combat trafficking in nearly a dozen source, transit, and destination countries.

Promoting women’s participation in political and public life

We empower women to engage in political processes, and equip women to be informed voters, active members of political parties, and successful candidates. Working with local governments and partners we advance women’s rights and strengthen legal systems to reform policies that discriminate.

Lotus Circle

The Lotus Circle is a vibrant community of committed individuals and organizations supporting our Women’s Empowerment program to strengthen economic, social, and political rights and opportunities for women and girls in Asia. By joining the Lotus Circle, with an annual gift of $1000 or more, you can help transform the lives of women and girls across Asia.

Program highlights


Across Asia, women are underrepresented in the establishment and growth of small business and cross-border trade. The Asia Foundation’s AccelerateGrowth program has a goal of supporting one million women entrepreneurs in Asia by 2022—with a focus on rural women and those who have migrated to urban areas. Our multi-country approach targets barriers that impede and constrain women entrepreneurs from starting and growing their businesses. By facilitating access to buyers, markets, financial and technology training, leadership support, peer exchanges, and multi-level forums, current and emerging women entrepreneurs who run micro, small and medium-sized enterprises will achieve greater success as business women and serve as changemakers in their respective communities and countries.

Labor migration in Cambodia

In Cambodia, unsafe labor migration practices increase the risk of exploitation and abuse, often in the form of labor and sex trafficking. The Asia Foundation conducts trainings on safe migration and anti-trafficking strategies for community youth-based networks in high-risk provinces, and works to improve the capacity of local government to better protect communities from unsafe labor migration.

Nepal: Conflict mediation

In Nepal, women face distinct challenges in accessing the formal justice system. The Asia Foundation promotes community-based mediation as a means to improve access to justice and establish a culture of conflict resolution. We have worked with local partners to create more than 100 mediation service programs across 12 districts of Nepal that have provided more than 1,280 women with mediation support.

The Latest Across Asia

70th Anniversary Impact Highlight

July 3, 2024


This year, we celebrate 70 years of improving lives and expanding opportunities.