Gender Equity in Asia

Portrait of confident Muslim doctor wearing hijab standing at the entrance of hospital, photo by gahsoon/Getty Images

Photo by gahsoon/Getty Images

In most countries of the Asia-Pacific, large pay gaps, inflexible workplace cultures, and social expectations of women as the main caregivers for children and households pressure women to withdraw from the labor force. Most of women’s work at home is also not considered as contributing to the economy.

These gender inequalities are often part of a larger pattern across society despite the implementation of policies and laws to promote gender equity. Whether it be property rights, workplace, or education rights, women continue to face inequalities. The pervasiveness and normality of existing gender systems can often make it difficult to see how deeply gender inequalities pervade society. Overcoming such barriers to achieve equality requires transformational approaches in changing the political, legal, and social environment.

The RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy (CAPP) launched a Gender Equity Initiative in Asia-Pacific countries in September 2021. The initial countries for study are China, South Korea, and Pakistan.

The initiative provides a platform for collaborative research and dialogue among thought leaders from the public policy sector, business, civil society, and academia from different Asian countries to address current challenges facing gender equity. This research aims to analyze the social, cultural, and political drivers for existing gender inequality, and explore the best models for social change to improve gender equity in Asia. The results will be widely disseminated among policymakers in Asia and the United States through research reports, articles, and seminars.

View Working Group Members

As the initiative continues, check this page for more information and future research. To be added to our mailing list for initiative updates, please email Ingrid Villanueva-Burroughs at

Initiative Updates


  • South Korea's Extraordinary Fertility Decline

    The complicated history of family planning as well as socioeconomic and political factors may all play roles in depressing birth rates in South Korea. But the nation's fertility decline is just one piece in a complicated gender puzzle.

  • What the Media Might Have Missed About South Korea's Elections

    The toxicity of the anti-feminist discourse in South Korea does not accurately reflect the gender-related tensions and problems that most Koreans currently face. The obstacles to improving gender equity are more mundane and more ubiquitous than the hyperbole of anti-feminism suggests.


  • Transforming Gender Equity in South Korea

    The RAND Corporation Center for Asia and Pacific Policy is organizing a public webinar that will take place on October 6 to convene a multidisciplinary group of opinion leaders, practitioners, and academics to engage in a high-level discussion. [Virtual]

    Oct 6, 2021