2019 APEC Women and the Economy Forum

"Advancing the Inclusion of Women in the Economy"

30 September – 5 October 2019, La Sarena, Chile


On the road to economic growth and development, in comparison to men, women often face more barriers and challenges to fully participate in the global economy. These obstacles that hinder women’s economic participation include occupational segregation, discrimination, unequal sharing of care responsibilities, etc. These challenges negatively impact economic growth and hinder prosperity for women and their families, as well as for communities, economies, and the Asia Pacific region as a whole. Policymakers and leaders are encouraged to develop public policies addressing the cultural, social, structural, and other barriers that women from diverse backgrounds frequently face when accessing capital and participating in formal labor markets.

The 2019 WEF theme is “Advancing the Inclusion of Women in the Economy.” It acknowledges and draws focus to the challenges and barriers preventing women from fully participating in the economy and points out the benefits everybody would gain from women’s full participation in the economy. Some of the issues discussed include 1) addressing systemic barriers to create a more inclusive labor market that enhances the recruitment, retention, integration, and advancement of women of diverse backgrounds in higher-wage, high-growth industries, including STEM fields; 2) providing access to quality education and capacity building so women can navigate an increasingly dynamic economic environment and be competitive in the digital economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution; 3) the importance of collecting, analyzing, disseminating, and leveraging sex-disaggregated data; and 4) addressing the various factors behind the digital gender gap, such as potential negative gender biases and socio-cultural stereotypes, among others, that chronically hinder women's access to an increasingly digital labor market.

Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPDWE)

This year’s PPDWE discusses ways to promote the inclusion of women in the economy through four panel discussion sessions. Each panel features speakers and panelists from different economies, both from the public and private sectors.

Session 1: Reducing Barriers for the Integration of Women in the Economy

This panel seeks to explore the most important obstacles to women’s full participation in the global economy, including gender occupational segregation; a disproportionate

engagement in low-wage and/or insecure occupations; reduced access to capital, assets, and markets; a greater workload of caretaking and unpaid domestic responsibilities; and most generally, cultural gender stereotypes that portray women as only suitable for some occupations. These outstanding obstacles are some of the major contributors to the gender wage gap.

The session concluded that to reduce the barriers to women participating in the economy, we must lower the risk of entrepreneurship, create more innovative methods and content of education, change policies and social norms, emphasize personal safety, and provide ways for women to access capital. Only when all of the above are implemented and working together can we see the full picture of the barriers women face and work towards practical solutions.

Session 2: Promoting Equal Opportunities to Prosper in the Workforce Through Data

This panel seeks to generate a discussion regarding the importance of collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated data for the integration of women into the economy, exploring how both the private and public sectors are advancing to collect and analyze gender data systematically. This session features panelists from the private and public sectors, as well as non-governmental organizations, so they were able to share different perspectives on how their organizations view the importance of data, how they use it to develop more effective policies, and what are successful strategies to collaborate across sectors when collecting this information.

The session concludes that the collection and emphasis on data are becoming a general trend. With the proper collection and analysis of data, we can better keep track of our goals and provide a better basis for future projects or advocacies.

Session 3: Reducing the Digital Gender Gap and Promoting More Women in STEM

For the integration of women in the economy to be sustainable, one must set their sights on the future. The Fourth Industrial Revolution and digitalization rapidly transform the global economy, making the labor market increasingly dynamic. This panel touches on the major opportunities and challenges brought up by new technologies, explores how they are shaping the workforce, and how we can make women and girls future-ready with innovative solutions that foster more women in STEM careers and a reduction of the gender digital divide.

This session concludes that most economies are working hard to increase the participation of women in the STEM sector, hoping the number of women in STEM would rise soon. However, long-standing gender segregation in the workplace and the culture/social norms in these workplaces create barriers that force women to compromise or quit altogether. In the future, we must emphasize strengthening inclusion and community support.

Session 4: Increase the Number of Women in Leadership Positions

This panel aims to elicit a conversation centered on the challenges and opportunities in the incorporation of women into leadership positions, both in the public and private sectors, and to discuss lessons learned from distinguished women leaders on how to foster women's empowerment.

This session concludes that the barriers to women entering leadership positions can be broken down into external and internal obstacles. External obstacles include organizational structures and promotion systems, gender stereotypes, unconscious bias, discrimination, sexual harassment, etc. Internal obstacles may include lower confidence, ambition, personal motivations, etc. Both of these areas need to be addressed to promote more women in leadership positions.


Full 2019 WEF Statement

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