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The first pan-Asian network committed to mobilising money for gender equality launched in spring 2021. Here’s how it is already making an impact

Asia is home to 60 per cent of the world’s population, so if we’re going to make headway with any global challenges, we need to see positive change in the region.

To tackle gender equality, one of the UN’s sustainable development goals, 18 influential Asian women banded together on International Women’s Day last year as founding members of the Asia Gender Network (AGN). It’s powered by AVPN, a social investment network, with operational costs covered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“This is not just another women’s network,” says AVPN CEO Naina Subberwal Batra. “The Asian Gender Network will use its resources to amplify initiatives and scale solutions for some of the most neglected or underrepresented sectors that the region faces.”

The members include prominent entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and leaders of family businesses, some of whom are Asia’s Most Influential honourees or Gen.T honourees. 

They’re attracted by the chance to collaborate more widely with accomplished peers across the region and by the network’s Asian identity, according to Patricia Mathias, head of the AVPN gender platform. “We’ve all grown up here and understand the cultural nuances and the need to solve our problems our way—for Asia by Asia,” she says.

In 2021, AGN raised more than US$10 million to combat problems ranging from justice for survivors of violence to support for female entrepreneurs to eradicating modern slavery. Membership has grown to 32 women who hail from 15 Asian markets, among them, Veronica Colondam, Mercedes Lopez-Vargas, and Grace Forrest

Women reinvest 90 per cent of their income into their families. To create economic progress and improve outcomes for all of Asia, we need to invest in female entrepreneurs
Renyung Ho

Members recently formed three themed impact circles to coordinate efforts around economic empowerment, education, and gender justice. Some will also contribute to pooled funds that are launching in 2022. The first has a goal of raising US$25 million over five years to support women’s economic advancement in the region; two subsequent pooled funds will focus on maternal healthcare and STEM education. 

AGN members will be meeting face-to-face in June 2022 at the AVPN global conference in Bali and are involved with the development of various initiatives in the run-up to the G20 Summit being held in Indonesia in October 2022.

“We need women in all places where decisions are being made and we need more women in leadership roles if we are to move forward towards gender equality,” says Meiling Guo, chairman of Beijing Century Galaxy Technology Group. 

Front & Female is partnering with AGN to amplify its members’ work through a series of opinion pieces—kicking off later this month with contributions from Proud Limpongpan, CMO of Zipmex Group, and Shinta Dhanurwardoyo, CEO and founder of Bubu.com.   

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