"Women’s Economic Empowerment Post-COVID-19"
24 September 2021, Wellington, New Zealand (Virtual)
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have disproportionate impacts on women and girls in the APEC region and around the world, including through increases in health and safety risks; work burdens, including care work; gender-based violence and disparity; and economic insecurity. There is also concern that the impacts of the pandemic are continuing to exacerbate existing gender inequalities and creating new issues and challenges for women and girls, including the unfair share of unpaid/underpaid care and domestic work they undertake, which has increased significantly in the context of the pandemic. As a result, women and girls are facing significant obstacles when it comes to access to education and participation in the formal economy.
Under these circumstances, the theme of this year’s WEF focuses on “Women’s Economic Empowerment Post-COVID-19” and features discussions on the challenges, barriers, and successes economies have faced in supporting the well-being and economic empowerment of women and girls. In the context of inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth, there was also a focus on embedding longer-term structural changes to improve resilience and participation in the formal economy.
At this critical juncture, we recognize the importance of inclusive, equitable, and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that takes into consideration the needs and interests of all. We note the substantial benefits that families, communities, and economies stand to gain from gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, including greater productivity, prosperity and innovation, and improved quality of life.
La Serena Roadmap for Women and Inclusive Growth
The current global circumstances present a crucial opportunity to advance meaningful development for women and girls, and in turn families, communities, and economies across the APEC region. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, it is critical to realize the untapped economic potential of improving participation by women and girls and enabling them to play leadership roles in the recovery process. Gender-responsive approaches - in accordance with applicable domestic laws and policies – can contribute to inclusive, sustainable, and equitable economic growth and long-term development.
The key action areas of the Roadmap emphasize empowering women through access to capital and markets; strengthening women’s labor force participation; improving access of women to leadership positions in all levels of decision-making; supporting women’s education, training, and skills development, and access in a changing world of work; and advancing women’s economic empowerment through data collection and analysis.
The continuous monitoring and reporting of progress, gaps, challenges, and opportunities related to the Roadmap’s implementation are of utmost importance, as the successful implementation stands to contribute significantly to the APEC region’s economic recovery through the empowerment of women and girls.
Measures to Advance Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment
To achieve inclusive, sustainable, practical, and measurable actions to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, sex-disaggregated data must be collected, analyzed, and disseminated to identify existing barriers and inform effective responses. Another critical aspect of reaching the goal of increasing women’s participation in the formal economy is structural reforms in accordance with applicable domestic laws and policies. This includes actions to address gender pay gaps and occupational segregation; promote work-life balance and equal sharing of unpaid domestic work and care responsibilities; promote access to non-discriminatory, high-quality, and sustainable employment, including in higher-wage occupations; address all forms of gender-based violence in the workplace; ensure access to health information and services; promote the transition of women from the informal to formal economy; and many others. (Please refer to the complete WEF statement for the detailed list of actions.)