Closing the Gap

Empowerment and Inclusion in Asia and the Pacific

image of Closing the Gap

The average achievements the Asia-Pacific region has seen in education, employment and income reflect the role economic growth can play in helping people realize their potential. However, these achievements represent only that: an average. With an increasing gap between rich and poor and between those who have and those who do not have access to opportunities, Asia and the Pacific is also a region that is growing apart. This report adopts a rigorous approach to measuring and quantifying progress in the level of inclusion and empowerment of marginalised groups across countries in the region. It focuses on three main areas of direct link to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, namely education, employment and income (SDG 4, SDG 8 and SDG 10). The purpose of the analysis is to assess to what extent disadvantaged groups have been included and empowered in these three areas. While there are various disadvantaged groups, the report focuses on women, rural residents, persons with disabilities, youth, older persons and migrants, as well as the furthest behind groups, which are shaped by various layers of circumstances. The aim of this report is to use analytical evidence to encourage policymakers to adopt policies that underpin inclusion and empowerment in their countries.



Methodology and concepts of inclusion and empowerment

The recent decades of development in Asia and the Pacific are often portrayed as a success story of inclusive development. In the context of economic growth, more than 80 per cent of the region’s extreme poor have been lifted out of poverty since 1990, resulting in improved living standards for most people. The average improvements in income, but also in access to health care, education and other key services are undeniable.4 However, these achievements represent only that — an average.


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