All forecasts point to the fact that this is going to be Asia Pacific’s decade in the sun. The dozens of urban growth engines, from Hyderabad to Ho Chi Minh City, Seoul to Shenzhen, are going to usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity and opportunity for the 4.3 billion inhabitants of this diverse region.
However, there are currently no guarantees that that growth, forecast at 5.1% for 2020, will be evenly distributed. As of 2019 there were 1.2 billion people in Asia Pacific living under the international poverty line. Whilst initiatives such as microfinance and affordable internet access is going some way to offer a way out of destitution to many, there is still a long way to go.
What’s more, studies suggest that it is women who suffer the most in abject poverty. They are poorer, and hungrier and more discriminated against. They have lower access to jobs and economic opportunities.
Much of this is due to a vast disparity in access to education, with two thirds of the global illiterate population made up of women and twice as many girls not able to attend school as boys.
The case for increasing female literacy is clear. Women who are educated are more likely to be healthier, to earn more, to lift their family out of poverty, and to put money back into their communities.
When we think of equality at Cushman & Wakefield we often think of gender and racial balance within our workplace. We think of the significant strides that we’ve made towards creating an equitable, merit-based working environment for all our employees, which we celebrated last year for International Women’s Day.
However, when we think about equality, we also need to think about how we can have a positive impact on creating equality across all of the environments and communities within which we work. It is notable, after all, that the urban share of poverty in Asia has risen to 21.9%, and that of the aggregate number of those lifted out of poverty, nearly 90% of them are rural poor.
With this in mind we’re delighted to be supporting The Asia Foundation this International Women’s Day in their Books for Asia campaign. As a father of three girls I’ve seen first-hand the profound importance of reading, both for their development as well as for the time that it allows us to spend together.
By putting books in the hands of children in some of the poorest parts of our region, we see real opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and move towards the equality that is at the heart of this year’s International Women’s Day theme of “each for equal”.
To find out more about our support for Books for Asia, as well as how you can get involved, check out our dedicated page.