Why launch in S/SE Asia?
A huge opportunity for change.
Sisters For Change has launched its first projects to tackle violence against women in India and Indonesia, working in partnership with grassroots women’s organisations, social activists, lawyers and technologists. Our other blogs explain the challenges facing both of these countries. Here, we take the opportunity to explain why we chose to start with operations in South and South East Asia and why these regions play a central role in our work.
South Asia comprises India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
South East Asia comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam.
First and foremost, we are launching pilots here because the levels of violence against women and girls are higher in South and South East Asia than in any other region of the world, including Africa and the Middle East. The World Health Organisation’s 2013 map depicting the global prevalence of intimate partner violence, shown below, illustrates the point.
Secondly, the South and South East Asia regions are a hugely important part of the global economy. With a combined population of 2.27 billion people – nearly one third of the world’s population – S/SE Asia boasts 6 of the 40 largest economies in the world (India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore) and some of its highest GDP growth rates. As such, this area will have a huge influence on future global geo-political decision-making and policy. Ensuring that the issue of women’s rights and equality is firmly on the agenda here is therefore crucial.
Thirdly, despite growing economic power, over 1 billion – or nearly 50% – of people in South and South East Asia live in poverty (Asian Development Bank Key Indicators for Asia & the Pacific 2014). Two thirds of these are women (United Nations). It is this dramatic level of inequality, caused in part by systematic discrimination against women and girls in the countries in which they live, which feeds Asia’s growing statistics on gender violence, from ‘missing’ women to trafficking of girls to levels of sexual and domestic violence. So if programmes and initiatives to tackle the social acceptance of violence and discrimination against women and girls can be successfully propagated and rolled-out here, the scale and difference they will make are incomparable anywhere else on earth.
In short, Sisters For Change is launching in South and South East Asia because creating positive change here will literally change the future for the majority of womankind. Join our movement for social change today, get involved or support us so we can help more women and girls in S/SE Asia.