Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe poses with members of his cabinet TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

The Asia-Pacific Gender-Parity Imperative

The economic benefits of gender equality are no secret: when half of the population is not empowered to contribute to the real economy, growth and productivity suffer. But in the Asia-Pacific region, harnessing women's productive capacity will require not just better labor-market policies, but also a broader change in social attitudes.

SINGAPORE/MUMBAI – Gender equality offers a sizeable economic opportunity for any country. A government that hopes to achieve strong growth without tapping into women’s full potential is essentially fighting with one hand tied behind its back.

In fact, new research from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that Asia-Pacific economies could boost their collective GDP by $4.5 trillion per year by 2025, just by accelerating progress toward gender equality. That would be the equivalent of adding an economy the combined size of Germany and Austria every year. The opportunity is especially large for India, where GDP would grow by as much as 18%.

Gender equality contributes to growth in three ways. According to MGI, 58% of the gains in the Asia-Pacific region would come from raising the female-to-male ratio of labor-force participation, 17% from increasing women’s work hours, and the remaining 25% from having more women working in higher-productivity sectors.

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