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 Blog 

Blogs and Op-Eds by the Youth Co:lab team and contributors from our extensive network of changemakers. 

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Driving Action for a Feminist Financial Ecosystem in Asia and the Pacific

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) hosted its second edition of the Feminist Finance Forum in Bangkok, Thailand from 7 – 8 May 2024. The Forum convened women entrepreneurs, ecosystem enablers, and representatives from civil society and women-led grassroots organizations.  

Alisa Sivathorn - Disability Inclusion and Empowerment Specialist, UNDP speaking at the session
Alisa Sivathorn - Disability Inclusion and Empowerment Specialist, UNDP speaking at the session

The objective of the forum was to foster meaningful dialogues on inclusive financial ecosystems and generate concrete action to close the gender-finance gap in Asia and the Pacific. The Forum aligned with Youth Co:Lab's aim of fostering inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems and addressing the key barriers facing young entrepreneurs including those that are furthest left behind. Expanding access to quality financial products and services came up as a key recommendation from a joint report by Youth Co:Lab and UNICEF “Addressing Gender Barriers to Entrepreneurship and Leadership by Girls and Young Women in South-East Asia”.  

 

Youth Co:Lab, co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, collaborated with ESCAP to co-design and lead the Feminist Finance Forum session titled “Mind the Gap: Intersectionality and Inclusive Finance for Women-led Entrepreneurship”. This session explored the enablers and challenges young women entrepreneurs face in accessing quality financial services with insights from ecosystem builders on how to make finance more inclusive. Young entrepreneurs shared their lived experiences on accessing financial services as well as the multiplier effect of their solutions in strengthening agency for women and building community resilience. The discussion provided the audience with practical strategies for unlocking financial barriers and pathways for enabling access to quality financial services for the most marginalized communities. 

  

Young women entrepreneurs, who are Youth Co:Lab alumni also participated in the different forum sessions and shared their experiences, contributing to a stronger understanding of youth-specific barriers and opportunities within the financial ecosystem in Asia and the Pacific.  

 

As part of its commitment to building capacity of youth-led civil society organizations to drive positive social change, the Youth Co:Lab team contributed to the workshop “Translating between Gender and Finance” co-designed by Criterion Institute and ANDE. The Translation Workshop aims to equip civil society organizations and other stakeholders with practical tools and strategies for implementing gender equity goals through finance.  

 

The Forum concluded with a reflection circle with speakers including Asian Development Bank and Youth Co:Lab sharing the importance of addressing intersectional inequality and discrimination for an inclusive financial ecosystem and the achievement of the SDGs. 


 

Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship. Read more about Youth Co:Lab here.  

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