Asia-Pacific

International Women’s Day, 2022
How Bangladesh Became a Test Case for Women’s Empowerment

The increased empowerment of rural women in Bangladesh over the past 10 years has been no accident. A decade ago, not even one in four rural women could be said to be “empowered” across five key metrics, a figure that surprised even those working on the ground with the country’s poorest. By 2015, this had risen to more than two in five, or 41 per cent, with continued gains in recent years.

International Women’s Day, 2022
Celebrating the Transformative Impact of Women as Non-Formal Educators

Women around the world play crucial roles in education as formal educators, school staff members, and parents of students. But women are also transforming education as non-formal educators in ways that can be scaled to improve education broadly. As we celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8), it’s important that this transformative role is recognized.

It’s Time to Step up for Street Vendors’ Rights

In the second week of January 2022, Purushottam—locally known as Prashant—a street vendor in central Delhi’s Connaught Place area, died by suicide. It was later discovered that the reason for his death was his inability to pay certain debts.

The Very Hungry Dragon: Meat-ing China’s Self-sufficiency Targets for Dairy and Protein

Food security has long been a high priority for the Chinese central government and has been linked to China’s national security in recent years. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs recently released a national five-year plan under which China will seek to maintain a target to produce 95 percent of the protein domestically until 2025: China aims to become self-sufficient in poultry and eggs, 85 percent self-sufficient for beef and mutton, 70 percent for dairy, and 95 percent self-sufficient in pork. These targets intersect with many of the Chinese central government’s current aims to meet the growing demand for protein and dairy, safeguard food security, and other major policies.

Pacific Islanders: Failure to Commit to 1.5 Degrees at COP27 will Imperil the World’s Oceans

Oceans play a pivotal role in regulating the world’s climate and maintaining the conditions for human life on earth. And they are a crucial source of sustenance and economic wellbeing in many developing countries, including small island developing states. But Pacific Islanders are deeply concerned about the fate of the oceans if world leaders fail to secure the pledges needed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels at the next COP27 climate change summit in November.

Women’s Voices Raised Against Hate in India

More and more women from different walks of life and corners of the world are raising their voices against the treatment of minorities in India today.

Renewable Energy vs Coal: Where Does India Stand?

Coal—considered to be one of the most polluting fossil fuels and, therefore, one of the biggest contributors to climate change—took centre stage at COP 26. A last-minute intervention by India during the negotiations resulted in a crucial amendment to the coal pledge in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Is Big Power Rivalry Threatening to Sink the Indian Ocean Zone of Peace?

A former Indian ambassador once told an American audience that one of the biggest misconceptions about the Indian Ocean is that it belongs to India. “Not so, but we wish we did”, he said, amidst laughter.

APDA, AFPPD Celebrate Forty Years of Championing Population and Development Agenda

The Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) has been ahead of the international community in addressing population and development issues, says the former Japanese Prime Minister and Chair of APDA Yasuo Fukuda.

International Accreditation in Education Can Bring Huge Benefits to the Pacific- If It Is Done Right

All over the world, students who attend tertiary education do so with the belief that the investment of their time, money and effort will provide them with returns on that investment that will change their lives and the lives of their families for years to come. As qualified graduates, those students emerge from their tertiary programmes with recognised skills and knowledge making them employable in their chosen fields, moving them forward along a career pathway and in many cases, bringing recognition to the institutions that trained them as they experience success and achievements related to their expertise.

Responding to New Threats to Poverty Eradication in Asia

With consistent, robust economic growth, countries across Asia have made monumental strides in eradicating extreme poverty over the past 30 years. In Bangladesh, for example, the population living in extreme poverty dropped from 43% in 1991 to 10.5% in 2019. Similarly in Cambodia, poverty incidence fell from 53% in 2004 to below 10% by 2016.

Pro-rich Policies Buoy Billionaires’ Rise in India

If India ranks among the world’s fastest growing economies it is also where inequity is growing the fastest, thanks to endemic features unique to the country such as the caste system.

Looking to the Future: China’s Priorities for Food Security in 2022 and Beyond

Safeguarding food security has long been a critical priority for the Chinese central government. President Xi’s latest comments and meetings demonstrate continued concerns at the top about China’s food security. Ahead of the 20th National Congress this year and the release of the No 1 policy document, there are already several hints regarding what the Chinese central authorities could prioritise in terms of food security for this year and beyond. Other factors, including the potential influences of gene-edited plants, commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) crops, and of a Russia-Ukraine conflict should also be considered.

An Unending & Uncertain Battle Against the Covid

The year 2021 began with several new vaccines showing efficacy in randomized trials, but despite 26 authorised Covid-19 vaccines globally, and at least another 200 in development (The Lancet, 2021), the first few weeks of year 2022 brought a sense of uncertainty.

Nepal Investing in Health Care but Equality of Access Lags

As the omicron wave of Covid-19 rose ominously in Nepal recently, to entice more people to get tested the government reduced the cost of PCR tests from 1,000 rupees ($8.37) to 800 rupees ($6.70) in government facilities and about double that in private ones.

A Clash of Alms

Driven by unprecedented hardship to pass round the begging bowl, Sri Lanka has become the centre of a tussle between Asia’s two superpowers.

Fighting Corruption Essential to Reducing Inequality in Pacific Islands

Corruption continues to have a crippling effect on the lives of many people in southwest Pacific Island countries, exacerbating hardship and inequality and eroding human and national development.

Endgame for Polio in Pakistan

“It was like a heavy burden had been lifted, and I could breathe easier,” said Irum Khan, a polio worker, recalling the cloudy, gloomy, winter morning of January 28, 2022, when her supervisor announced Pakistan had not reported a single case of a child afflicted with polio since January 27, 2021, when the last time a polio case was reported from the province of Balochistan.

Myanmar’s Military Junta is Killing Press Freedom

One year since a democracy-suspending coup, press freedom is dying in Myanmar. A military campaign of intimidation, censorship, arrests, and detentions of journalists has more recently graduated to outright killing, an escalation of repression that aims ultimately to stop independent media reporting on the junta’s crimes and abuses.

Boys Sold by Trusted Villager Turned Human Trafficker

Friends Ajay and Durgesh were lured from the same village in the remote and poverty-stricken countryside of eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) in January 2021.

The Rise of Religious Extremism & Anti-Muslim Politics in Sri Lanka

On 28 October, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed the militant Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara to head a presidential task force on legal reforms, shocking many in Sri Lanka and beyond. Gnanasara is the public face of the country’s leading anti-Muslim campaign group, Bodu Bala Sena (Army of Buddhist Power, or BBS). He is widely accused of inciting inter-communal violence, including two deadly anti-Muslim pogroms in June 2014 and March 2018.

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