Latest MasterCard Index Reveals a Steady Increase in Gender Equality for 12 of 14 Asia/Pacific Markets

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Singapore, 29 February 2012: MasterCard today announced the results of its latest Index of Women’s Advancement. The Index which measures the socioeconomic level of women in relation to men revealed an increasing recognition for women’s empowerment in recent years, signaling enormous strides made by women in society.

The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement is part of a sustained effort by MasterCard to measure the socioeconomic standing of women across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. The Index is comprised of five indicators: Business Ownership, Business & Government Leadership, Workforce Participation, Regular Employment Opportunities and Tertiary Education[1]. Each indicator measures the ratio of women to every 100 men in each of the 14[2] Asia/Pacific markets covered by the research.

Scores are indexed to 100 to indicate how close or how far women in each market are to achieving socio-economic parity with men. A score under 100 indicates gender inequality in favor of males while a score above 100 indicates inequality in favor of females. A score of 100 indicates equality between the sexes. The Index and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance.

Frontrunners among the 14 Asia/Pacific markets were Australia and New Zealand with overall scores of 83.3 and 83.1, respectively. Following close behind are the Philippines (Index score: 77.8), Singapore (77.4) and Vietnam (75.0), while India (48.4), Korea (63.5) and Japan (64.8) round off the other end of the spectrum.

Twelve of the 14 markets have been seeing increases in their overall Index scores for the last three years at least. While India currently ranks the lowest amongst all Asia/Pacific markets with an index score of 48.4, their scores have been on an upward trend since 2010. On the other hand, China, which currently has an index score of 73.7, has been experiencing consistent small declines in their score since 2007.

Enrollment rates for women in tertiary institutions surpass men for most Asia/Pacific markets

In eleven markets, women are on par or better represented in tertiary institutions than their male counterparts. This is the case in New Zealand (137.7), Malaysia (135.9), Australia (134.5), Thailand (133.2), Philippines (125.8), China (118.4), Vietnam (107.2), Taiwan (107.0), Hong Kong (104.2), Indonesia (103.3) and Singapore (98.1).

Japan (89.6), Korea (73.1) and India (69.5) are exceptions where enrollment rates for women fall below those of men.

Moving towards a level playing field in terms of workforce participation and regular employment opportunities


Workforce participation rates for women were healthy across most markets, with eight markets averaging over 70 women for every 100 men in the workforce.

India ranked poorly in this category, with only 35 women in the workforce for every 100 men, as did Malaysia (57.1), Indonesia (61.0) and Philippines (62.8).

In terms of regular employment, eleven of the 14 markets included in the research offered equal opportunity for both men and women. The exceptions were India, where women have the lowest regular employment opportunities to men (52.9) of the Asia/Pacific markets, followed by Vietnam (71.6) and China (82.8).

Women still underrepresented among small business owners

Female business owners in Asia/Pacific still require greater economic and social empowerment. Thirteen of the 14 markets included in the research had fewer than 50 female business owners for every 100 male business owners.

Australia (56.6) scored the highest in this category, while Japan (29.4), Hong Kong (29.0) and Taiwan (30.4) had less women for every 100 men owning businesses in their country.

Gender disparity in business/government leadership positions


There is much room for growth in encouraging women to take up positions as business and government leaders. According to the scores of the latest index, only six markets have at least 50 women business/government leaders for every 100 male business/government leaders.

Across the 14 Asia/Pacific markets, Philippines (192.3) is the only market that achieved gender parity in business or government leadership. New Zealand (77.1), Australia (73.1) India (65.8) and Singapore (65.5) also had a reasonably high proportion of women to men in business/government leadership positions. Markets that scored especially low in this category include Japan (15.0), Korea (17.3) and China (24.0).

MasterCard’s research on women’s advancement has shown that while more women have access to job opportunities and tertiary education, there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to women taking top positions in government or business.

Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa, said: “The results of this latest index show that across the key indicators in most markets women are progressing; big steps are being taken in terms of workforce participation and regular employment opportunities and this is encouraging news. This is especially inspiring for the people who champion women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment as it shows that even in challenging times societies are taking these issues seriously.

“Women’s socio-economic advancement starts at the basic level – from fostering confidence in girls through education, to giving women skills development and regular employment opportunities. In line with our commitment to this cause, MasterCard has recently launched Project Inspire, a year-long digital and social media driven initiative centered on the theme of advancing women’s entrepreneurship — the objective being to engage the minds of young social entrepreneurs through a competition to bring out the best ideas to support women’s empowerment. Such initiatives help raise awareness around the important role of women in societies in the APMEA region, and ultimately improve their socio-economic standing,” she concluded.

MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement
Market OverallScore (2012) Five Indicator Scores
Tertiary Education Business Owners Business & Government Leaders Workforce Participation Regular Employment Opportunities
Australia 83.3 134.5 56.6 73.1 81.6 105.5
New Zealand 83.1 137.7 46.8 77.1 83.2 111.1
Philippines 77.8 125.8 47.1 192.3 62.8 98.1
Singapore 77.4 98.1 46.0 65.5 74.0 113.6
Vietnam 75.0 107.2 37.5 32.7 90.1 71.6
Thailand 74.6 133.2 38.5 36.0 79.9 95.2
China 73.7 118.4 42.6 24.0 84.3 82.8
Hong Kong 73.7 104.2 29.0 48.4 75.1 110.1
Taiwan 73.5 107.0 30.4 34.3 78.8 109.0
Malaysia 68.3 135.9 32.5 58.7 57.1 111.2
Indonesia 67.9 103.3 35.9 45.9 61.0 94.4
Japan 64.8 89.6 29.4 15.0 69.0 105.3
Korea 63.5 73.1 42.2 17.3 68.9 102.8
India 48.4 69.5 32.5 65.8 35.9 52.9


The scores above show the proportion of women to every 100 men for each category. Scores of over 100 are truncated to 100 when the overall Index score is derived, so as to ensure one component does not skew the overall Index score.

For the full report go to:

MasterCard and its Suite of Research Properties Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa

The MasterCard Worldwide Index suite in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa includes the long-running MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, as well as the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement, Online Shopping, Index of Financial Literacy, and the Index of Global Destination Cities. In addition to the Indices, MasterCard’s research properties also include a range of consumer surveys including Ethical Spending and a series on Consumer Purchasing Priorities (covering Travel, Dining & Entertainment, Education, Money Management, Luxury and General Shopping).

MasterCard also regularly releases Insights reports providing analysis of business dynamics, financial policies and regulatory activities in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. Over 80 Insights reports have been produced since 2004.

MasterCard has also released a series of four books on Asian consumer insights, authored by

Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor for MasterCard Worldwide and published by John Wiley & Sons.

About MasterCard Worldwide

MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the conversation on The Heart of Commerce Blog and subscribe for the latest news.



Georgette Tan, MasterCard Worldwide,, (65) 6390-5971

Vasundhara Subrahmanian, Weber Shandwick,, (65) 6825 8054

[1] This year, the index has been refreshed to reweight the 5 components from being equally weighted to one which puts the most emphasis on Workforce Participation. Apart from Tertiary Education, the other 3 components are related to workforce participation.

[2] Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.