2017 APEC Women and the Economy Forum

"Enhancing Women's Economic Inclusion and Empowerment in the Changing World"

26-29 September 2017, Hue, Viet Nam

The Asia Pacific is at a crucial juncture of transformation amidst a fast changing global landscape. The Digital Age is having unprecedented impact on the nature of work in general and women’s economic inclusion and empowerment in particular. Inclusive and sustainable growth around the world is the overarching vision of the 2030 development agenda. Gender equality and women’s economic inclusion and empowerment are central to this vision.

Under the APEC 2017 theme ‘Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future’ we focus our deliberations on ‘Enhancing Women’s Economic Inclusion and Empowerment in the Changing World’ with three priorities: i) Promoting gender equality for sustainable, innovative and inclusive economic growth; ii) Enhancing the competitiveness and innovation of women-owned MSMEs; and iii) Narrowing gender gaps in human resource development.

Promoting gender equality for sustainable, innovative and inclusive economic growth

Substantial disparities still exist in employment and income opportunities between women and men. Women carry out a disproportionate share of unpaid care, household and agricultural work, while experiencing disadvantages including limited access to assets, markets, networks, ICTs, financial and productive resources. APEC member economies are encouraged to:

  • Recognize, reduce, and redistribute the disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work by enacting legislation and undertaking reforms that realize the equal rights of all women and men with a view to addressing the issue of women’s disproportionate burden of care work.
  • Invest in gender-responsive public expenditure on women’s workforce skills, quality health, education and productivity; establish ‘caregiving’ leave; and remove occupational-segregation.
  • Enable full participation in business, entrepreneurship and global value chains; integrate women located in rural and remote areas, indigenous women and women’s cooperatives by providing them with access to infrastructure, including public utilities, technology, transportation, water and sanitation.
  • Strengthen public-private cooperation to improve, as appropriate, policies and programs that support and facilitate the economic inclusion of those most disadvantaged and vulnerable to poverty, including women in rural and remote areas, indigenous women, ethnic women, women with disabilities, women heads of households, survivors of violence against women, survivors of natural disasters and armed conflict, migrant workers and other vulnerable groups. All stakeholders are encouraged to participate and cooperate to collect and process sex-disaggregated labor market information.
  • Promote inclusive workplace, training and education environments that are responsive to the needs of women and girls.

Enhancing the competitiveness and innovation of women-owned MSMEs

Women have immense contribution to the achievement of sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth in the region and acknowledge the remarkable contribution of MSMEs to the GDP of every APEC economy. Business associations are the backbone and voice of the business community, supporting the improvement of the skill base and enabling environment of their constituents. Those that work on behalf of women entrepreneurs are well placed to impart valuable business knowledge to policy makers and help develop inclusive business programs and indicators. The private sector should champion the inclusive business agenda and include women in the development of inclusive business models, whether as workers, suppliers, distributors, customers or consumers. Both the public and private sectors should collaborate on gender-responsive policies and practices, services, training and market information that improve access for women-led enterprises to resources and opportunities. APEC member economies should directly engage with business associations and other relevant organizations to help them develop business enabling environments that support women entrepreneurs and women-led cooperatives to start up and scale their operations, ensure their equal access to finance and markets; expand women-led MSMEs’ global presence and their participation under equal conditions in global value chains; and empower women entrepreneurs through digitalization. Particularly, member economies are encouraged to promote and facilitate the association of women entrepreneurs and cooperatives in rural and highly vulnerable areas, share research, sex-disaggregated data, indicators and best practices in gender-inclusive development.

Narrowing gender gaps in human resource development

The opportunities and challenges for women and girls, in particular vulnerable groups, of the 4th Industrial Revolution are: the convergence of smart phones, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), sophisticated artificial intelligence, smart cities, and advanced robotic technologies into interoperable global value chains. To address capacity-building priorities in this area and where appropriate, member economics are encouraged to:

  • Offer targeted technical training to improve women and girls’ digital literacy to unlock job opportunities and entrepreneurship.
  • Strengthen the ecosystem for women and girls regarding STEAM education and employment to bridge the digital divide; leverage women’s and girls’ talents; and take advantage of new opportunities presented by the Digital Age, including online learning and the removal of the digital gender divide in accessing ICT.
Additionally, the information technology revolution has brought new forms of violence against women, including cyber-bullying, online harassment and cyber-stalking. Such violence has prevented women from participating in the economy as users, content creators, employees, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders. Member economies are encouraged to implement awareness raising programs, women-friendly web spaces, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, and accessible public reporting mechanisms that recognize that cyber-acts can be a form of violence against women and girls.

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