Southeast Asian women champion sustainability

Southeast Asian women champion sustainability
A woman joins a tree planting activity in Siem Reap, Cambodia. More women in Southeast Asia want to invest in sustainable business. Image: USAID

Tainted food, plastic pollution, global warming and climate change—these are a number of the top concerns women have as consumers and investors, according to a study released by USAID Green Invest Asia and Moxie Future on women’s preferences and behaviours toward sustainable investment and business—a growing, multi-trillion dollar marketplace.

“We have two powerful forces—the advance of women’s economic empowerment and the transformative rise of a sustainability marketplace. How those forces interact is an important question,” said Angela Hogg, USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia Environment Office Director. “At USAID we promote  inclusive economic growth by identifying opportunities for women in agribusiness and encouraging partners to invest more responsibly.”  

Women read the fine print. They are looking for the best ways to deploy their money to protect their family’s health, their land’s longevity, their community’s well-being.

Caterina Meloni, advisor for gender and social inclusion, USAID Green Invest Asia

Multiple business case and academic studies, including a 2011 landmark World Economic Forum study, have come to a similar conclusion: sustainability sells. Particularly with women, said Caterina Meloni, USAID Green Invest Asia’s gender and social inclusion advisor.  “Women read the fine print. They are looking for the best ways to deploy their money to protect their family’s health, their land’s longevity, their community’s well-being.”

The authors interviewed close to 3,000 women in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam in one of the largest studies to date on the female sustainability economy in Southeast Asia. The survey sought to learn how women act on sustainability priorities, what affects their decisions and what is missing in the marketplace. Globally, women control on average 75 per cent of household consumption.

A glance at the findings:

  • Among the top priorities for women with their purchases is that a product comes from sustainable sources, followed by recyclable packaging.
  • For 83 per cent of women responding from Indonesia and the Philippines, product selection depends on what is written on the packaging.
  • Women’s top requests included products that help consumers reduce their environmental footprint, products with clearly displayed information about a company’s environmental and social standards and brands taking steps to help the environment.
  • Women want to invest in socially responsible companies (88 per cent of women surveyed) and more products made with women in mind (71 per cent of women surveyed).
  • Less than half of women surveyed in Singapore are satisfied with sustainable food options.

Women in Vietnam were the most active in the countries surveyed in considering social and environmental impacts of purchasing decisions; 23 per cent avoid products that give cause for concern over food safety and the environment through wasteful, non-recyclable materials.

About the authors 

USAID Green Invest Asia is a flagship climate finance initiative that partners with companies and investors to unlock investment into sustainable agriculture/forestry and reduce carbon emissions in Southeast Asia. USAID Green Invest Asia also provides expertise in gender analysis and diversity policies, identifies women opportunities in agribusiness and helps increase outreach to women’s markets. All of these help companies access premium markets and green finance.

Moxie Future is a sustainable development platform working at the intersection of sustainable business and the female economy. 

For media inquiries: Phuong Tran, USAID Green Invest Asia,  

Publish your content with EB Publishing

It's about who you reach. Get your news, events, jobs and thought leadership seen by those who matter to you.

Most popular

Featured Events

Publish your event
leaf background pattern

Transforming Innovation for Sustainability Join the Ecosystem →