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Sport is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls and Asian women are poised to make their mark in women sports.

On Sunday the 29th of September 2019, Indian women held their host Great Britain to a 1-1 draw in the second match of their Tour of United Kingdom.

India’s Lalremsiami scored the equalizing goal in the 32nd minute after Great Britain had taken an early lead in the match. India was out of the blocks quicker, and earned a couple of penalty corners within the first two minutes. Britain’s custodian Maddie Hinch was at hand to ensure India didn’t get an early lead though.

Soon it was Great Britain, who reciprocated, winning a penalty corner from a swift counter.

Despite a smart save by the Indian defence, an infringement meant the hosts were awarded a penalty stroke, which was duly converted in the 8th minute, giving them a 1-0 lead. It was that slender lead they took into the first break.

Much like the first quarter, it was India again, who took the initiative early in the second period, winning another short corner and Hinch pulled off another save.

In the third quarter, India finally restored parity after Lalremsiami finished off a counter attack to draw the scores level. With both teams locked at a goal apiece and all to play for, the game opened up. Neither the defence caved though as the teams went into the final quarter tied at 1-1.

Indian women are scheduled play their third game on Tuesday, October 1 and all eyes are on Lalremsiami.

The welfare ministry is considering crafting a new law to strengthen the protection of women, including school girls, from sexual exploitation, according to sources.

The law would provide the legal basis for prefectural consulting centers for women, a role currently played by a law that deals primarily with prostitution.

According to the sources, the change would allow the centers to provide more flexible support to a wider range of girls and women, such as those coerced to appear in adult videos. It would also be aimed at high school girls, or joshi kōsei in Japanese, exploited in the so-called JK business to entertain men.

The ministry hopes to introduce the bill during the next ordinary Diet session, which will start early next year, the sources said.

The law against prostitution defines the centers as places to protect and rehabilitate women who may prostitute themselves.

A panel of experts set up by the ministry has called for a review of that narrow definition, saying the current system doesn’t fit the needs of women suffering from other forms of sexual exploitation.

Women being tricked or coerced into appearing in adult videos and schoolgirls being lured into the JK business are seen as major social problems. Starting in 2017, the government has carried out a campaign against sexual exploitation each April.

The prefectural consultation centers for women already provide assistance to victims of domestic violence and many other problems.

The definition “no longer fits the current realities,” a ministry official said.

Under the planned law, the definition of the centers would be rewritten to make it easier to deal with a wider range of exploitation as well as other problems.

The law is expected to include provisions to ensure that the centers work closely with municipalities, public welfare and child consultation centers and nonprofit organizations so they can reach victims unaware of the public assistance available.

Source: Japan Times

Vietnam is leading ASEAN in terms of the percentage of working women in total employment, according to a report by the ADB and OECD.

The share of Vietnamese women in total employment stayed at about 48.5 percent in 2016; however this was little changed from 2009.

Vietnam was closely followed by Laos at 46 percent and Thailand at 45 percent.

The figures were published in the ‘Government at a Glance: Southeast Asia 2019’ report that was released on September 10 by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report aimed to provide insight into government processes and performance in member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

It gathered data in various areas such as public services, promoting digital government and providing better work opportunities for women.

ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“Strengthening public institutional capacities is critical to all operations and ADB remains committed to supporting our developing member countries in improving public sector management functions and financial stability, while promoting more effective, timely, corruption-free, and citizen-centric delivery of public services,” said ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono.

The report showed 48.1 percent of public sector employees in Vietnam in 2016 were women, up from 46 percent in 2009. The latest figure was higher than the average rate of ASEAN at 46.9 percent.

Generally speaking, the report highlighted that women and men were almost equally represented in Southeast Asian public sector employment.

However, the rate plummeted regarding women’s political representation, deemed crucial to ensure women’s perspectives were taken into account in policy-making.

Vietnam ranks third at 27 percent behind the Philippines and Laos in terms of the number of female parliamentarians, higher than the ASEAN average rate of 20 percent and far ahead of Thailand at 5 percent.

Source: Vietnam Plus

In a recent Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, a decision that approves the scheme of providing free bus ride for women was taken. The policy allows for the scheme of providing free bus ride for women, but put a rider on female employees of the city government that they have to give up their transport allowance to avail the facility. 

The free-ride scheme is slated to begin in two months’ time. The Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed his cabinet’s approval to the scheme a “revolutionary step” towards “empowerment and safety of women”. 

According to the Chief, he said in a tweet: “I believe those opposing this step will in the future see it as a milestone towards empowerment of women. Poor and lower middle class will get maximum benefit from it”. 

A statement revealed that, women employees of the Delhi government, local bodies and undertakings will not be entitled for transport allowance if they opt for free ride in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses. 

“The departments, local bodies, autonomous bodies etc will take an undertaking from their women staff to the effect that they are not availing this free travel facility,” it said.

The transport department will also write to the Ministry of Finance after implementation of the scheme, to consider issuing necessary instructions in this regard to all ministries, Central government departments and autonomous bodies in Delhi, the statement added. 

“Women commuters will be able to get free rides using ‘single-journey passes’ to be available with the bus conductors. Those not willing to avail free ride may buy tickets,” Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said in a press conference. 

The Delhi Assembly recently approved a supplementary grant of Rs 140 crore to facilitate free ride for women in buses for the current fiscal. 

“Its a very big step as 30 per cent of the travellers in DTC and Cluster buses are women,” Gahlot said. The facility will be available in Noida NCR service, airport and other special services operated by DTC and Cluster scheme. 

There are around 5,500 buses of DTC and the Cluster scheme of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) that according to latest official figures carry over 45 lakh passengers each day. 

The government will reimburse Rs 10 per single-journey pass, to the DTC and similar payment will be made in case of Cluster buses. 

The free ride scheme in buses and Delhi Metro train was announced by Kejriwal in June. However, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) sought time to implement the scheme. 

Delhi Assembly has also approved a grant of Rs 150 crore for implementation of schemes in Metro trains. 

“The Delhi Metro had said that a board meeting will be held on these issues, but has not mentioned when it will be held,” Gahlot said when asked about progress in implementing the scheme in Metro trains. 

The cabinet has directed the DTC to propose suitable amendments in DTC (Free & Concessional Passes) Regulations, 1985, if any, so that it could be be notified in the official gazette. 

Both DTC and DIMTS will strengthen their ticket checking mechanisms prevent “misuse” and “pilferage” of single journey passes. 

Source: The Economy Times

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) has launched a directory of female members with qualifications and experience to be corporate directors to promote gender diversity in join company boardrooms.

Professional services firms have progressed faster than corporate in achieving gender diversity, said Aruni Rajakarier, chairperson of the CA Sri Lanka Women Empowerment and Leadership Development Committee. 

“Many men say that there is no talent pool among women, but this directory shows that there is actually a talent pool and this talent pool could be greater if we accept that there are gender differences and help women stay in,” she said. 

The directory is an important initiative aimed at supporting the country’s vision to have 30% women on boards by 2020, a statement said. 

CA Sri Lanka said it is trying to break gender barriers in boardrooms with its ‘Board Ready Female Members Directory’ which promotes more female representation across boards in corporate Sri Lanka.  

Harsha Basnayake, Ernst & Young Asia Pacific Transaction Advisory Managing Partner, said educated and smart women have been waiting in the sideline due to social and power biases which many have been conditioned to practice. 

“As leaders we have a significant capacity to change all of this and the efforts to go beyond billboards and social media proclamations. You and I have a real challenge in this regard to be the advocates and leaders who break the barriers,” he said at the launch of the directory.

Basnayake said that the failure to engage and develop talented women within an organization leaves half of the company’s potential behind. 

More than half of university entrants in Sri Lanka are women which means there is a large talent pool of women who can greatly add to the workforce not in terms of gender but in the range of experience and competencies which they can bring to an organization, he said. 

Quoting a study conducted by Peterson institute in collaboration with Ernst & Young, Basnayake said 30 percent of women representation on boards could add up to 16 percentage points to its net margin. 

“We have validated this at Ernst & Young by experimenting with our teams and quantified profitability of projects we carried out between diverse teams and homogeneous teams which is all male, and we recorded an 8 percent advantage with the team which is mixed and diverse,” he said. 

“Diverse boards and corporate leadership teams are less prone to group thinking and more prone to embracing new approaches to meet future threats and opportunities.” 

He said that studies have shown that greater level of gender diversity can have a positive impact on corporate performance and economic growth. 

Jagath Perera, CA Sri Lanka President, said although women are highly involved in economic related activities across the globe, their presence in leadership positions is relatively low.

Source: ECONOMY NEXT

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aim of bridging the gender-equality gap is beginning to take shape in Parliament, although it is largely thanks to women from opposition parties.

Twenty-eight women were elected to the upper house of Parliament recently, tying the record set in the previous upper-house election three years ago. That represented 23% of the 124 seats at stake. Sixteen of the 28 new women came from outside Mr. Abe’s ruling coalition, which retained its majority in the election, putting Mr. Abe on track to become the nation’s longest-serving leader.

In elections that focused on diversity to an extent that is rare for Japan, opposition parties hoped that fielding a large number of female candidates would loosen Mr. Abe’s grip on power.

A record 28% of candidates were women, in the first national election held since a gender-parity law was implemented last year saying that political parties must aim to put forth an equal number of male and female candidates. There is no penalty for parties that don’t meet the target, and 15% of the candidates from Mr. Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party were women.

While many opposition women fell short, a few upset incumbents from the ruling party. Shizuka Terata, an independent backed by several opposition parties, won a seat in northern Akita prefecture over an LDP incumbent.

Ms. Terata campaigned against Mr. Abe’s plan to deploy a missile-defense system in the prefecture, and prevailed despite a visit by Mr. Abe to Akita on the day before the election to stump for the LDP incumbent, Matsuji Nakaizumi.

“In the latter part of the campaign, I felt as if I was battling the entire government,” Ms. Terata said after her victory.

In Miyagi prefecture, Noriko Ishigaki, a newcomer from the Constitutional Democratic Party, upset incumbent Jiro Aichi from the LDP, who had been elected by the prefecture three times in the past.

Mr. Abe’s party will not feel immediate pressure to field more women, but “the gradual trend toward more female candidates will continue into the next election,” said Kentaro Maeda, who teaches politics at the University of Tokyo’s graduate school of law and politics.

Elections for Parliament’s lower house must be held by the fall of 2021. Only 47 of 463 lawmakers in that chamber are women.

Diversity in general was a theme of Sunday’s election. Two candidates with severe disabilities were elected from a small opposition party, including one who is largely paralyzed owing to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Taiga Ishikawa, one of the first openly gay politicians in Japan, also won a seat, running on the ticket of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party. His party plans to introduce a bill to recognize same-sex marriage.

As of June 1, the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranked Japan 163rd in the world in terms of women’s representation in the legislature. The U.S. tied for 77th, with women making up 23% of the House and 25% of the Senate.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The World Food Program (WFP) is working with the Bangladeshi government to lift rural women out of extreme poverty through a ground-breaking program. With an investment of 72 million U.S. dollars, the Bangladeshi government, with technical assistance from WFP, is set to reach 100,000 women with livelihood training, behavior change education, as well as food assistance, said the the food-assistance branch of the United Nations.

The participants of the Investment Component for Vulnerable Group Development (ICVGD) program come from all 64 districts of the country, residing in remote areas that are prone to natural disasters, such as floods, tornadoes and cyclones. They face high poverty levels with low employment opportunities.

“WFP applauds the government for its commitment towards empowering women and achieving food security in Bangladesh,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director in Bangladesh. “Thanks to commitments like this, rural women will now have a chance to transform their lives and that of their children through skills and knowledge.”

Currently in its second phase, the program consists of training in entrepreneurship, financial management and life skills, as well as behavior change education in the areas of nutrition, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene. Each participant will receive a start-up grant of 15,000 taka (180 U.S. dollars) and a monthly ration of 30 kg of fortified rice during their training period. During the first phase of this program, which started in 2015, 8,000 rural women were provided with similar support. An evaluation of the first phase showed improvements in income, food security and dietary diversity of these women and their families.

WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Source: Xinhua