Socio-economic challenges faced by Asian women



Immense growth and development has been witnessed in Asia with the optimal utilisation of advanced technologies and globalization but along with it, it has brought inequality in various aspects. There are increasing challenges that are being faced with respect to the rapidly growing inequality between the poor and the rich, which has been evident over the last two decades. Apart from this challenge, inequality of opportunity was also observed, which in turn contributed inequality in the income. For instance in South Asia, the participation of men in the labour workforce is higher as compared the women. Not only in field of employment, but also in the provision of schooling opportunities, the enrolment of girls were reported to be lower than that of the boys in West and Central part of Asia (OECD, 2017).

Understanding all the relevant challenges that has been faced by the people of Asia, the key objective of this study is to critically evaluate the socio-economic challenges that has been faced by the Asian women with special reference to the contemporary cultures in today’s scenario. Furthermore, certain historical evidences have also been discussed regarding the stereotypical roles of male and female, as well as, the relation of these two genders with the culture.

Historical Evidences

In an article of Chicago Journal, Emily Martin recognised the importance of stereotypical roles of male and female in relation to science. Wherein, the author inter-related the theory of the roles based on the scientific reasoning and the culture that existed in the society. This article highlighted the inequality, undervaluation of women counter-parts considering the stereotype of the society then, which is often observed at present. Furthermore, it involved the theory of human body and the reproductive biology, which was reacted to the roles that both male and female played in the contemporary society. Moreover, the biological processes of female were also considered less worthy in comparison with the male counter parts in those days. Hence, the author intended to highlight the stereotypes persisting in the society at that era, which were linked with the biological factors of human kind. Corresponding to the social aspect, it was also stated that the relationship between the sperm and the egg was taken in a religious perspective. In the later years, there were cultural innovations that were observed, but not in the favour of women. Rather women were perceived to be dangerous and stated to pose aggressive threat. This can be considered as the cultural aspect of the stereotypes in the society. All these stereotypes and the perceptions had brought social consequences that were alarming threats to the female counterparts, thereby, creating challenging situations for the feminists. However, it was suggested that the perspective of power should be neutralised and only then the society will treat gender equally (Martin, 1991).

Similarly, according to Ortner (1974), the human nature of males and females were related to the cultural perspective. It was observed that the power of women and their treatment varied according to culture they belonged to. However, changes were evident within these perspectives with the passage of time, thereby, particularly affecting the cultural traditions in the society. It was hence, intended in the text that women were in need to get opportunities equally as compare to the men not only in the social context but also in the economic aspects. It was hence perceived to be the universality that women were subordinated or suppressed, which was also the part and parcel of the stereotypes that persisted in the society then. For instance, the case of China was highlighted wherein, absolute authority was given to a father and the importance of son was also prominent in the Chinese society. In addition, the women were given unspoken status, therefore, depicted that it was an archetypal patriarchal type of society. Subsequently, three levels of problems were addressed, the first being that in every society women were given secondary status. Then, the problem that persisted in certain cultures that considered the symbolizations and ideologies in relation to the social and structural arrangements were also discussed. Particularly, this problem generated complexity within the society. The third problem that was prominent in that era was the activities, power, influences, and contributions that varied according to the cultural ideology (Ortner, 1974).

In this context, women were restricted to the assumptions that they could not be prominent in the entire system, especially with respect to the official aspect. Hence, it was stated that the key problem persisted in women’s devaluation in the society. Therefore, conclusions were drawn that the social changes were necessary and could only be attained with difference in the cultural view through change in the social actuality. In order to align women with culture and nature, both the genders must be treated equally (Ortner, 1974). Having the understanding of all these challenges in the past, a detailed analysis of socio-economic challenges, especially in the context of Asian women was considered.

Socio-Economic Challenges faced by Asian Women

In Case of Oman

There were numerous barriers observed in the way of the woman entrepreneurs in the rural areas of Oman, even in the recent scenario. In this context, it was evident that the women living, especially in the mountain and rural areas were having difficulties in crossing their boundaries. In addition, these women also faced problems in considering themselves competent for entrepreneurship more than their traditional roles in their respective families. They happened to face varied challenges including deprivation to access funding for their ventures or any sort of creative activities. They were also facing the lack of training required for their benefits in the businesses which were skill-based. Wherein, the basic reason for such challenges was that they had limited support from their family. Oman is considerably more developed than from most of the other Arab countries with respect to women empowerment and gender equality. However, it was found that they were facing significant challenges. This was mostly because of the socio-cultural aspects that were considered in the society, which influenced along with being a barrier for venture creations and their success (Ghouse, McElwee, Meaton & Durrah, 2017).

For instance, the rural women in India were not provided with adequate funds, which posed great impacts on the entrepreneurial activities, which in turn hampered their socio-economic developments. Hence, it was suggested that policy makers should make considerations to support the women entrepreneurs so that they will be able to diversify their household income. In addition, they might contribute to the socio-economic development of Oman itself (Ghouse, et al., 2017).

In Case of Indonesia

With continuous developments that have been taking place in the world, there are some significant changes in the perceptions and believes regarding women, based on the perspective of gender and their relation. In this context, it was observed that the prevailing issue was mostly due to the developmental aspects that the status of women and their position in the society was changing in the recent context. Irrespective of the development that has been evident in the society, it was observed that the variety of inequality increased between genders with respect to class, age, education, as well as, ethnicity. It was also found that even though women were given opportunities, they faced difficulties, as they were placed in unfavourable positions in their workplace, which can be interpreted as gender hierarchies. Hence, it was found that, especially in the remote communities indigenous practices were influential especially in the South-east Asia (Haug, 2017).

Other Cases

These differences were visible even in the cases of Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, especially with respect to the context of economic empowerment. It was hence, observed that women wanted to have changes in their social along with economic status but lacked suitable opportunities along with the restrictions that they face through social norms including economic and social mobility. In addition, limited access was available to them for public services. However, policy makers were interested in providing them with aids but, there were limited traces of implementation in these countries (Johnson & Gulati, 2017).


Although there have been several changes in the societal believes and indigenous practices, it still is evident that they have been eradicated in various aspects. In addition, there are various other constraints that have cropped up with developmental activities., It can be concluded that developmental activities with respect to the socio-economic position of women can be possible with the support of integrated initiatives taken from the government, as well as, the banks such as facilitating credit availability. It can further provide them with the concept of micro-finance. The integration of marketing, networking, and web-based technology can also foster their capabilities but only with proper training, which can be availed by government’s initiatives.

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  1. Ghouse, S., McElwee, G., Meaton, J. & Durrah, O. (2017). Barriers to rural women entrepreneurs in Oman, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 1355-2554.
  2. Haug, M. (2017). Men, women, and environmental change in Indonesia: The gendered face of development among the Dayak Benuaq. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 10(1), 29-46.
  3. Johnson, J. & Gulati, N. (2017). Challenges South Asian women face on economic empowerment. Retrieved from
  4. Martin, E. (1991). The egg and the sperm: How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 16(3), 485-501.
  5. (2017). Asia’s challenges. Retrieved from
  6. Ortner, S.B. (1974). Is female to male as nature is to culture? Woman, Culture, and Society, 68-87.
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