Understanding DEI in Asia

Asia, the largest and most populous continent, is home to tremendously diverse cultures, languages, and histories. Asia grapples with unique diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) challenges due in part to its rich tapestry of societies, and in recent years has made huge strides towards fostering greater diversity and inclusion. In this blog post, we will explore these challenges and identify positive examples of progress across Asia.

Asia embodies an extraordinary range of ethnicities, religions, and languages. From the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia, from East Asia to the Middle East, the continent showcases remarkable diversity. It is essential to recognize and appreciate this complexity by considering each country individually, rather than taking a generic approach towards the continent as a whole.

Challenges and Issues

Gender Equality

Despite significant progress in recent years, gender inequality persists in many parts of Asia. Gender stereotypes, traditional gender roles, and limited opportunities for women hinder progress toward achieving gender parity. Efforts are underway to promote women’s empowerment, enhance education and employment opportunities, and challenge gender-based discrimination in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Japan.

LGBTQ+ Rights

LGBTQ+ individuals often face social stigma and legal challenges in various countries within Asia. Many nations still criminalize same-sex relationships or lack comprehensive legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. There have been notable advancements in LGBTQ+ rights movements in several countries, including the decriminalization of homosexuality and the recognition of same-sex relationships in Taiwan and India.

Disability Inclusion

The inclusion of people with disabilities remains a challenge in Asia. Societal attitudes, lack of accessibility, and limited support systems contribute to marginalization. Organizations and governments are working towards building inclusive environments, providing equal opportunities, and promoting accessibility for people with disabilities. The United Arab Emirates has coined the term ‘People of Determination’ in recognition of their achievements in a variety of fields.

Progress and Initiatives

Japan’s Increasing Female Workforce

Japan has been traditionally known for its patriarchal society, however in recent years Japan has taken notable steps to address gender equality in the workforce. The government has implemented policies to increase women’s labour force participation, provide childcare support, and promote women’s leadership positions. These efforts aim to overcome cultural and societal barriers and encourage a more inclusive working environment.

India’s LGBTQ+ Rights

In a landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court decriminalized same-sex relationships in 2018. This ruling marked a significant milestone in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the country. The Supreme Court stopped short of allowing same-sex marriages in the country in 2023, instead ruling that this should be a matter for parliament to decide. Several organizations and activists have been actively promoting awareness, acceptance, and legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community in India.

South Korea’s Disability Rights

South Korea has made remarkable strides in promoting disability rights. The government has enacted legislation to enhance accessibility, provide employment opportunities, and ensure equal rights for individuals with disabilities. Initiatives include promoting barrier-free infrastructure, advocating for inclusive education, and establishing supportive employment policies.

Singapore’s Multiculturalism

Singapore, known for its multicultural society, has placed a greater degree of emphasis on fostering diversity and social cohesion. The government actively promotes racial and religious harmony, implements inclusive policies, and encourages intercultural understanding. Through its comprehensive approach, Singapore strives to build a harmonious and inclusive society.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2023

In June of 2018, women were allowed to drive with no restrictions or male domination over that right. Since then, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has introduced Vision 2030, including one key goal around paving the way for further advancement for women in society. Women’s economic participation rate went from 17% to 25% within a year of launching the vision.

The advancement of women in Saudi Arabia’s society paved the way for the first two Saudi women to be sent to the International Space Station. They are only the 2nd and 3rd individuals from Saudi Arabia to ever go to space.


While progress has been made in various countries, there is still work to be done. Governments, organizations, and individuals across Asia are recognizing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion and taking significant steps towards creating more inclusive societies.

By celebrating difference, challenging discriminatory practices, and advocating for equal rights, Asia can harness its rich tapestry of cultures and experiences to forge a path towards a more diverse and inclusive society.

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