In Asia and the Pacific, women experience significant barriers to participating in public and political life. Due to economic, social and cultural factors, women’s political representation in the region remains comparatively low, and the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating pre-existing obstacles for women’s public engagement. A direct threat to women’s political participation is online hate speech and misogyny, which has increased dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic and has a chilling effect on women’s ambition and opportunity to be politically active. In building back better, women’s safety in the online sphere needs to be guaranteed to support democratic progress and improve gender equality in public life, during COVID-19 and beyond.

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