The Non-Aligned Movement and its Member States have always extended their support to form an atmosphere in their respective countries for equality of opportunities and accessibility of resources to reach everyone without any discriminatory pattern being adopted along the gender, religious and racial grounds.

The efforts undertaken by the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement to encompass the goodness of education, employment and entrepreneurship within the larger framework is quite impressive as well as inspiring. NAM has always realized the fact that for a strong economy, a balance is the pre-requisite that incorporates the balance of power distribution along the gender lines. For sustainable and inclusive growth to flourish and prosper, the participation from the other half of the population is quite essential as well as enabling.

NAM has been advocating the active participation of women in the labour market that hold the potential to drive the economy towards sustainability and boost productivity by driving in innovation and involvement, with a zeal to cement a cohesive society. Among the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement, the contribution made by the Southeast Asian countries is worth mentioning as it projects a positive picture for the world to ponder upon to eradicate the evil of gender disparity and to extend a message for nations to follow.

The women of the Southeast Asian countries, because of the targeted efforts on the part of the respective nations, have witnessed a remarkable change especially in the educational scenario, with them moving upward in the educational ladder that, in turn, augments their possibility for better employment opportunities as well as hold potential to polish them in entrepreneurial skills. Ever since its inception, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) has been emphasising on gender equality. In lieu of its commitment, the AEC has recently begun to increase its focus on supporting women’s entrepreneurship, in particular within the context of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) Development 2016-2025.

To tackle remaining gaps in outcomes between men and women in the region, all ASEAN countries have ratified the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and are working actively towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals across the region. Showing a positive outcome of the strenuous efforts made by the Member States of the NAM, especially those countries coming under the ASEAN, the overall labour force of the women in the region has reached the 48 percent mark but the statistics should undergo a revolutionary change in attitude and efforts to reach the 100 percent mark and reduce the gap existing between male-to-female participation in the labour market.

In the labour scenario, the role to be played by the women holding entrepreneurship skills is immense having several positive strings attached to it. It adds to the inclusive growth and sustainable development of not just their respective nations but extends it benefits for the regional blocks and global growth in the long-term.

The ten Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) accounts for 61.3 million women entrepreneurs making the percentage of firms with active women participation in ownership in ASEAN comparatively high. The statistics are evident to prove the same with 69 per cent in the Philippines, 64 per cent in Thailand and 51 per cent in Viet Nam. The efforts of the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement definitely translates in these positive statistics.

The ASEAN nations following the path laid down by the Non-Aligned Movement has adopted a cross-sectoral approach on women’s entrepreneurship and has been working in close coordination and co-operation to achieve the goals for women empowerment in general and encouraging women entrepreneurship in particular. ASEAN has created several committees for the same, including the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN), and the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) being some among the many.

Women economic empowerment is also fostered by the ASEAN members by holding strategic dialogues and conferences from time to time to evaluate the progress made, as well as to strategize for the future for effective redressal of problems and finding viable solutions for the same. By showing its commitment towards women empowerment, the ASEAN Community has been proving its usefulness and showcasing an example for the rest part of the world that it is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible. All steps taken by the ASEAN community fits well with its commitment to realize the ASEAN Vision 2025 that in all actuality and with great commitment complements the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development whereby women’s economic empowerment is entrenched in every goal and target.