The changing role of women in societyHowever, it is certainly justifiable to conclude that women have advanced greatly in terms of status throughout the region. The rise of the feminist movement has catalyzed gender equality in the Asia-Pacific region. Governments, such as in Malaysia, have declared their support for women to make their own decisions regarding health, education, and social welfare. Many Asia-Pacific countries and regions have also had or currently have female heads of state or government, which has been seen to elevate the political voice of women.
In countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Singapore where women were previously assumed to take the role of wife and mother, increased education and employment opportunities have become widely available for women. The decreasing focus on marriage and children is prevalent in the fertility rate throughout the region, in which the rate in Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Singapore, and South Korea was less than 1.5 births per woman. Furthermore, the focus on education and career is conveyed through the female labor force participation rate. This appears to have demonstrated that women have a significant influence on the working world across many Asia-Pacific countries and regions.
In some countries, women have also gained the freedom to make their own decisions relating to health and sexuality. The usage of contraception was widespread throughout the region. Nevertheless, there were still women whose needs for family planning were left unmet.
Interestingly, surveys suggest there are differences in opinion among men and women regarding how gender equality will progress across the Asia-Pacific region. More male respondents believed women in their country had already or would have the same rights as men while fewer female respondents agreed with this view. Although there are certainly more opportunities for women to succeed throughout the Asia-Pacific region than before, there are still existing prejudices that must be eradicated before gender equality can be fully achieved throughout the region.