The changing role of women in societyHowever, it is certainly justifiable to conclude that women have advanced greatly in terms of status throughout Asia-Pacific. The rise of the feminist movement has catalyzed gender equality in the region. Governments, such as in Malaysia, have declared their support for women to make their own decisions regarding health, education, and social welfare. Many APAC countries and territories have also had or currently have female heads of state or government, which has been seen to elevate the political voice of women.
In Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, and the Philippines, where women were previously assumed to primarily take on the role of wife and mother, increased education and employment opportunities have become widely available for women. The decreased focus on marriage and children is prevalent in the declining fertility rates throughout APAC, especially in the so-called advanced economies, including South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Furthermore, the increased focus on education and career is conveyed through the female labor force participation rate.
In some countries, women have also gained the freedom to make their own decisions relating to health and sexuality. The usage of contraception was projected to increase throughout the region. Some of the countries with the lowest fertility rates in the region also showcased the highest average ages of first-time mothers, including South Korea, Japan, and Singapore.
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 APAC than before, there are still existing prejudices that must be eradicated before gender equality can be fully achieved throughout the region.