Promoting gender-sensitive business environment reform is key to advancing women’s entrepreneurship development and decent work

While governments must create conditions for an enabling business environment, public and private stakeholders should be increasingly involved in ensuring women’s representation in the reform process.

News | 28 November 2022

Women are playing an increasingly active role in South-East Asian economies. At the same time, there is significant evidence for distinct but related gendered constraints to doing business. Informality, low-value addition and low productivity tend to characterize women’s entrepreneurship, with women-owned businesses mainly operating in low-skilled jobs in the agriculture or services sectors.

A range of actions can alleviate these constraints when pursuing business environment reform (BER). These include including taking a gender mainstreaming approach, widening social dialogue and elevating women’s voices, mapping a greater range of economically active women from the informal economy, and building a gender-sensitive enabling environment post-COVID.

Promoting Gender Sensitive Business Environment Reform in South-East Asia: A Compendium of Solutions identifies and brings together emerging solutions implemented by employers' organizations in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam to advance women-owned and women-led enterprises. The report also outlines key takeaways as well as recommendations for way forward in the economic, social and political domains to support employers' organizations in championing a more gender sensitive BER in the region.

Empowering women in the economy is key for a thriving business environment. Hence, ACE emphasizes the importance of improving women's access to leadership, education, finance, information and business. As a representative of the business and private sector in ASEAN, ACE promotes gender equality in ASEAN broadly, and in the workplace particularly. ACE sees that higher gender equality in a country would improve productivity and quality of living.

Hariyadi B. Sukamdani, President, ASEAN Confederation of Employers (ACE)
This new ILO compendium is a product of ILO’s Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE) team within the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Unit, ILO Rebuilding Better Project and the ASEAN Confederation of Employers (ACE), supported by the ILO SME Unit’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Development (WED) and Enterprise Formalization teams. It will be launched at the flagship ITC-ILO Regional Academy on Gender, Inclusion and the Future of Work (Asia and The Pacific) in Bangkok, Thailand from 28 November – 2 December 2022.