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APEC forum highlights gender equality, economics

Update: September, 27/2017 - 07:00
Representatives from 21 APEC member economies sit for discussions at the APEC 2017 Women and Economy Forum held in Huế. — VNS Photo Phước Bửu
Viet Nam News

THỪA THIÊN- HUẾ — Gender equality should be discussed in every forum and at every activity of APEC, said Deputy Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) Đào Hồng Lan at the opening of the APEC 2017 Women and Economy Forum (WEF) held yesterday in central Huế City.

That, she said, could help enhance the women’s involvement in the economy at a time when the rapidly changing world could use their contributions.

Lan highlighted the success of gender equality programmes organised during the APEC Year hosted by Việt Nam this year.

“The planning and enforcement of APEC policies that are responsible for gender must be implemented to ensure women’s empowerment and gender equality,” she said.

The forum addressed the topics of gender equality enhancement for sustainable, creative and strong economic growth; the improvement of competitiveness among micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises owned by women and narrowing gender gaps in human resource development. 

Representatives from 21 APEC member economies will spend the Forum’s two days in discussions that aim to develop recommendations for APEC leaders on women’s economic, financial and social integration, and women’s empowerment.

They will also listen to the private economic sector for ideas to improve women’s economic power and promote public-private partnerships.

Following this, a dialogue between government and business officials on women and the economy, and a dialogue among high-ranking officials on women and economic policies will be held in the city until the weekend.

About 600 million women are in the labour force of APEC, and over 60 per cent of them work in the formal sector and another 40 per cent in the informal sector. They contribute up to US$89 billion to APEC every year. 

Lan said that "the full potential of women in APEC has yet to be tapped".

“While bright prospects for the global economic growth can be seen, the booming information technology revolution has generated multiple business opportunities and profit for the regional economy,” she said. “That will also bring about more chances and favourable conditions for the female workforce and women-owned enterprises.” 

She expressed her hope that the 2017 WEF will adopt a ministerial statement on women and the economy. This document, set to propose policy recommendations for the 21 APEC member economies, will be submitted to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in central Đà Nẵng City this November. 

Women should receive the same opportunities as men to do business and traditional views on their role in the society should change, said Bùi Thị Xuân Bình, an employee of Richfield Worldwide JSC., on the sidelines of the WEF yesterday.

“Women are powerful. They can do even better than men in several fields,” she told the Việt Nam News. “However, we don’t receive full support from society and male colleagues when we are promoted to a management position in a company or in public administration.”

Bình said she hoped the forum would initiate more positive changes in the role of women in the private economic sector and strengthen their economic clout.

Women’s participation crucial

"Women’s participation in business—whether as consumers, producers, workers or distributors—is critical," said Đào Quang Vinh, Director General of the MOLISA’s Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, at the 2017 APEC Seminar on Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business in Huế City yesterday. The seminar was part of the 2017 APEC WEF.
Presentations and discussions on the topic would provide valuable input for further action among APEC economies in “creating new dynamism and fostering a shared future”, especially in leveraging the role of women in promoting inclusive business, contributing to poverty reduction across the region, Vinh added. 

Rhodora T. Masilang-Bucoy, Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Women and head of the Philippine delegation to the 2017 APEC Women and the Economy Forum, said it was important to look into Inclusive Business models that address barriers to women’s economic empowerment. 

The key findings and analyses from a survey of the “APEC Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business” Project show that there is still a need for institutions to enhance the enabling environment for women to participate in inclusive businesses; to re-create, re-design and innovate; and to be more gender responsive overall.

The UN has said that barriers to women’s economic participation should be eliminated or up to $89 billion could be lost within the regional economy every year. — VNS

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