As we celebrate International Women’s Day, women across Asia continue to struggle under the economic, social and political conditions and institutions that have placed them as second-class citizens in their countries. Celebrating Women’s Day is recognition of past achievements and present battles. Progress for women’s rights varies across the continent. Each country has a different set of challenges for women to overcome. However, the existing institutions of economic, social, cultural and political order are still tilted against women. That is true for all Asian women.
Asian women and their allies are persistently campaigning to upend and alter the laws, customs, and policies that prevent the full realization of their capacity as equal members of society. As we speak, numerous activists are working to close the gender pay gap and end the barriers to women’s participation in the workplace and the economy, fighting the scourge of violence against women and children, advancing the right policies to encourage and increase women’s participation in politics and governance, guaranteeing women’s reproductive health and rights, and much more.
We as progressives and social democrats in SocDem Asia believe that the success of women’s rights is part and parcel of our vision of a progressive and inclusive Asia. Advancing and securing women’s rights is not just non-negotiable but essential to any kind of progress in Asia. The role of women at the front, center and back of our campaigns and struggles is beyond question. Asian women today lead in fighting for labor rights, promoting renewable and clean energy while fighting climate change, speaking out for human rights, battling repressive leaders and speaking truth to power.
Despite the challenges women face from laws that restrict their movement to political leaders who are unrepentantly misogynist, from barriers to work to policies that seek to control their sexual and reproductive rights, women are still fighting back. This Women’s Day not only do we wish to recognize the bravery of millions of women who are struggling, often silently, against a society, economy, culture and governments which often ranges from indifferent to hostile to their rights but we also aspire to emulate such bravery.