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In partnership with women

Asian region


In 2012 the "Promoting equal rights and equal opportunities in Armenia: Women in Local Democracy" project has been introduced to Armenia. The necessity of this project was urged by the gender equality situation governing in Armenia since its independence.

Currently, women comprise 52 per cent of the total population. Although 58 per cent of those are with high education, their representation and participation in decision processes still remains quite low. At the local level, for example, there are no female Governor among the 10 marzes (regions) of Armenia and just one of the 21 Deputy Governors is a woman. On average, women hold 11 per cent of higher-level jobs in the public administration of Armenia, whereas they occupy the majority of positions at lower levels. Read more... pdf - 9 KB [9 KB]


In 2009, the EU Delegation in Beijing awarded a grant to support the "INDIGO" project (Intercultural Development in favour of Gender Opportunities). The goal was to empower and improve the livelihoods of rural women from the Miao, Qiang and Tujia ethnic minorities, who live in remote rural areas of Hunan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces of China.

During the last three years the INDIGO project has trained the Miao, Qiang and Tujia women in the production and marketing of handicraft products which draw from local ancient traditions, trained women as trainers of other women and youth, and set up a network of women across the three provinces. INDIGO has established cooperation with cultural institutions and museums in China and in Europe and was represented at the Shanghai Expo and the Fair-Trade expo in Italy. It went so far as to register its own INDIGO brand.

All in all, INDIGO has not only successfully developed local economies and income generation opportunities for the Miao, Qiang and Tujia women but also instilled a greater sense of confidence and ownership in them whilst reviving local cultural identities and creating an alternative to female labour migration.


The EU supports the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) – a flagship program by the Government of India that provides quality education to all children between 6 and 14 years. A key component of SSA are Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBVs) which are free residential schools set up for girls from marginalised communities to provide them with at least 8 years of education.

As a result of the SSA, India has achieved gender parity in primary education; as of 2009 there are 94 girls for every 100 boys in elementary school compared to 91 in 2005.

The KGBVs also empower girls though various activities including self-defence and knowledge of personal hygiene and sanitation. These schools are an important initiative for reaching out to underprivileged girls who otherwise would not have had the benefit of an education.

In other areas, the European Union supports the National Rural Health Mission and the Reproductive and Child Health Programs. One of the key points of focus of the support is continued and strengthened community engagement in gender budgeting and mainstreaming in relation to castes and tribes.

The central aspects of EU support in the health sector related to women are: developing business plans and strengthening the capacities for training in gender planning and the development of a convergence framework with HIV/AIDS especially with a focus on state level consultations with key stakeholders and operational research at district level.


The EU is actively supporting women working in the Indonesian batik industry through the "Clean Batik Initiative" (CBI) project.

Batik – a cloth made by a manual wax-resistant dye technique – is a timeless work of art and its manufacture is a vital industry for Indonesia. However, most batik manufacturers use excessive water, wax, chemical dyes and bleaching agents. Workers – mostly women – are also ill-equipped and handle dangerous chemical without appropriate protection.

With grant funding from the EU'sSWITCH-Asia programme, CBI helps improve the working conditions of at least 6000 workers from 500 batik-making SMEs across the country. Of these 6000 workers, 80% or 4800 workers are female.

Various interventions are carried out by the project, mainly through introduction of safer technology (such as electrical stove) and cleaner production methods (such as chemical management, good housekeeping).

By switching to cleaner and safer production methods, the female workers are less exposed to hazardous chemical substances and benefit from better air ventilation as well as lighting. Hence this allows for a healthier, safer and more comfortable working environment.

CBI's cleaner production also promotes resource efficiency (namely water, energy and use of natural dyes), resulting into costs saving which then leads to a more sound financial situation for the SMEs.

A sustainable and growing business definitely brings positive impacts for the workers.


Women's Day seminar panelist To mark International Women's Day 2013, the Delegation of the European Union to Japan and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan on 8th March 2013 jointly held a seminar focusing on women who have achieved prominence in their chosen fields.

Keynote speeches were delivered by a representative of the new Japanese government on the government's gender equality policy and by the CEO of Randstad Japan Inc., a Dutch multinational representing the view of the private sector.

The keynote speeches were followed by a moderated panel discussion with Japanese female representatives occupying senior positions in public and private Japanese organisations featuring such household names as Toshiba and British Telecom.

Discussions were mainly centred around speakers' own professional experiences as well as on today's barriers to and opportunities for successful economic participation by women in Japan.  


The European Union in Laos works with the landmine clearance NGO Mines Advisory Group International (MAG). MAG takes its commitment to gender rights and equality seriously. Continual efforts are made, both internally and within project activities, to ensure that females have equal access to opportunities, are provided appropriate space for participation and have a meaningful part in decision making.

Internal to MAG Laos, there are two all-female clearance teams, one of which is in Khammouane Province where an EU grant is currently funding activities. MAG has purposefully established these teams so as to provide an opportunity for local women to work in a mutually supportive group. The team undertakes exactly the same type of activities as other teams and achieves equally impressive clearance rates.

The women members greatly enjoy the fact that they work in an all-female environment and feel a sense of liberation and freedom in their roles. In wider Laos society, women predominantly have a subservient role in which they defer to males on almost every issue. Within the all-female teams this is never an issue and the women enjoy the autonomy that working in such an environment presents. This independence helps foster a great sense of pride amongst the women in their work and this in-turn ensures that they continually deliver excellent clearance rates.


The European Union actively supports women empowerment in Nepal and gender equality is a key component of its cooperation with development partners in the country.

The EU is involved, through technical and financial assistance, in promoting the role of women in bringing stability and peace building to Nepal. CARE UK, for instance, with EU funding, supports the capacity building of civil society "peace networks" that engage poor, vulnerable and socially excluded groups of women and youth in the process of influencing a democratic constitution in the country, which in turn, contributes towards sustainable peace and the achievement of individual and community aspirations.

In the field of human rights the EU systematically involves women’s rights networks and organisations in consultations on the launch of local call for proposals. The EU supports the work of organisations such as Women for Human Rights (WHR), which lobbies for the rights of single women (i.e. widows), and the Dalit Mahinga Sangh Association that provides access to basic health services for disadvantaged Dalit women.

In the field of labour market and migration, the EU contributes to the protection of migrant women's rights, especially from exploitation and human trafficking. Recent work by organizations such as UN Women and CARE Austria have focused on strengthening the capacity of government and non-government service providers and media to promote safe migration and improve the access of migrant workers to relevant information and services.

In addition, the EU promotes women’s active role in the labour market through the creation and development of micro and small enterprises. More specifically, in cooperation with AIDOS, the EU is helping the Federation of Business and Professional Women Nepal (FBPWN) to strengthen their capacity in implementing programmes for women’s entrepreneurship development. A specific example is the establishment of a Business Services Centre (BSC) that gives Nepali women a chance to move their families out of poverty by helping them set up a business or improve the management of their existing enterprises.

In order to enhance gender equality and women's empowerment in the aid effectiveness agenda, a global EU/UN partnership has been launched. In Nepal, the EU supports the UN Women programme "Gender Responsive Budgeting" (GBR) which seeks to improve the country's capacity to institutionalise GBR and to support the emergence of concrete actions by donor countries for mainstreaming gender into sector-wide approaches and programmes.

More recently, Nepal has been chosen to participate in the EU-funded UN Women / International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO) programme "Increasing Accountability in Financing for Gender Equality." This initiative, which started in April 2012, builds on the results achieved under previous and current programmes in this area with the aim of increasing the volume and effective use of aid and domestic resources to implement national commitments to gender equality and women's empowerment.  

Sri Lanka

Video: Women in the line of fire (2'18")

The Swiss Foundation for demining funded by the European Union humanitarian aid department has enabled civilian women to demine vast tracts of land in Sri Lanka.


The European Union supports civil society in Thailand to empower women so they can better engage in their livelihood, improve the protection of their rights and increase their access to health services.

In the 'Deep South' of Thailand many people are affected by an on-going conflict of political, ethnic and religious origin. Here, the EU works with Oxfam and the Raks Thai Foundation to enhance livelihood security and to develop sustainable community extension services for both Muslim and Buddhist women. Through training, women have gained skills in business development, marketing, leadership, advocacy, and network management.

Specifically on network management skills, the EU supports training for service provision to informal women's networks and group clusters – currently referred to as the Women Overcoming Violence Network. These skills range from counselling, prevention of and responding to violence against women and children to training for women to participate in local administration elections. As a result, almost 2,000 women in the area are empowered in livelihood activities and in life skills while the Women Overcoming Violence Network is developed into an organised women’s network with strengthened capacity to address short- and long-term needs of both women and children.

In the north-eastern provinces of Thailand, many women are vulnerable to domestic or sexual violence and human trafficking. An EU-funded project implemented by the Friends of Women Foundation seeks to improve women's rights protection and access to reproductive health services by empowering women's networks. As a result, about 10,500 vulnerable women have received counselling on their legal rights and access to health services, through a network of 250 trained women leaders, members, and lawyers.

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