Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy
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APEC members recognize that the full potential of women’s contribution to the Asia-Pacific economy remains untapped. As a result, women’s economic empowerment and greater inclusion of women in the regional economy are high on APEC’s agenda.

A recent United Nations report states that limits on women’s participation in the workforce across the Asia-Pacific region cost the economy an estimated US $89 billion every year.

Currently, in the 21 APEC economies, approximately 600 million women are in the labor force, with over 60 percent engaged in the formal sector.

The goal of the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) is to advance the economic integration of women in the APEC region for the benefit of all members and to coordinate gender activities across other APEC working groups.

The PPWE was established at the second Senior Officials’ Meeting in May 2011 held at Big Sky, Montana, the United States. It combined the former APEC Gender Focal Point Network and the private sector-oriented Women’s Leadership Network – creating a single public-private entity to streamline and elevate the influence of women’s issues within APEC.

PPWE works to address the five key pillars impacting women’s economic empowerment including:

  • Access to capital  
  • Access to market
  • Skills and capacity building
  • Women’s leadership and agency
  • Innovation and technology.

  • Current Activities
  • Achievements
  • Resources
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The High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy and the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) convened on 21-23 May 2014 in Beijing, China.

APEC Ministers and senior officials issued a declaration and committed to facilitate women and green development, women and regional trade and economic cooperation, and policy support for women’s economic empowerment in APEC economies.

E-commerce and smart technologies, for example, offer exciting new ways for women to start their own global online businesses. PPWE is working to facilitate women entrepreneurship in e-commerce, from making it easier to start a business with one-stop shop licensing to increasing ICT literacy of women. Initiatives include training women to use information technologies and e-commerce to start their own businesses as well as encouraging girls to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and the development of a regional women’s entrepreneurial network. For more information, see news release.

Current Projects

Innovation for Women and Economic Development - Facilitating Women's Livelihood Development and Resilience with ICTs 

Over recent years, increased attention has focused on the role and potential of the emerging value-added services of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) such as mobile phones and the internet as a pathway to bridge the gender and economic development divide. Southeast Asia’s economic success is due primarily to women who take up 60-80% of jobs in export sectors and account for 35% SME owners in the APEC region. However, obstacles such as lack of ICT skills prevent women from participating in economic activity, particularly for rural women, indigenous women and women with disabilities. To address this obstacle, this project aims to 1) promote awareness of women’s needs in APEC region in embracing new devices and services for enhancement in educational opportunities, career options and livelihood development; (2) identify and disseminate pertinent experiences and know-how of ICT innovations that can be replicated to broaden women’s capacities of doing business and enhance their resilience; and (3) assist stakeholders to formulate innovative public-private partnerships (PPPs) which will facilitate sustainable new business models and policy environments for women.

50 Leading Companies for Women in APEC

This project aims to improve women’s leadership opportunities in the workplace. Concerned by the “leaking pipeline” phenomena, in which there are increasingly fewer numbers of women employed at each higher level within companies (such as manager, executive manager, chief executive, etc.), PPWE undertook this project to highlight 50 exemplary companies around the APEC region that provided best practices in promoting women leadership. The project’s final report highlights effective practices being implemented by companies in APEC economies to facilitate women in management positions and summarizes seven key success factors. 

Women’s Entrepreneurship in APEC (WE-APEC) Network 

A previous PPWE study identified the lack of women entrepreneurial networks as one of the key obstacles for women-owed businesses in the region.  In response, PPWE is working on developing a broad, regional network linking women-owned enterprises to strengthen their business relationships with one another, as well for the private sector at large to access the vast range of goods and services available from women-owned enterprises. As a first step in developing this Women's Entrepreneurship WE-APEC network, this project will identify existing networks of women-owned businesses in APEC economies. Following completion of this survey, the United States will hold a dialogue on the margins of the PPWE meeting in February 2015 that will discuss the results of the survey, present best practice examples of these networks, and discuss next steps for APEC to develop its regional network and build capacity at the economy level where domestic networks don’t exist.

Women's Enterpreneurship in Local Communities as part of Disaster Reconstruction 

The Asia-Pacific suffers from a high number of natural disasters and the economic losses caused by these disasters are rapidly increasing. In the process of disaster reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake, women played a unique, distinct and active role as change agents, innovators, solution providers, and entrepreneurs. The project will share experiences of the role of women in helping with disaster recovery and reconstruction in Japan as well as survey other economies as well. A workshop in March 2015, on the margin of the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, will share the outcomes of the survey and highlight best practices.

Smart Technology Business Seminar

Use of smart technologies can provide flexible working conditions and help women entrepreneurs overcome difficulties arising from traditional business environments as well as spearhead innovation and breakthroughs in the creation of new and value-added products. To enhance women's economic empowerment using smart technology, Republic of Korea (ROK), in cooperation with the People's Republic of China, organized the "Smart Technology for APEC Women Business" Seminar in May in Beijing.  This seminar highlighted current trends on mobile commerce and social e-commerce, best practices and business models, and enabling policy environments.

The second meeting of the PPWE was held in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, in June 2012. Member economies presented their Individual Action Plans in the four policy areas identified at last year’s meeting to increase women’s economic participation: (i) Access to Capital; (ii) Access to Markets; (iii) Capacity and Skills Building; and (iv) Women’s Leadership. Participants also discussed its operational plans for 2013.

Like in San Francisco, a High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) was also held, as well as a Public/Private Dialogue that focused on 6 specific areas: Women in the Innovative Economy, Investment in Human Capital, Women and Entrepreneurship, Work-Life Balance, Women in Corporate Management and Women and IT.

The Statement issued at the end of the HLPD  encouraged APEC economies to assess the role of women and their contribution to the economy, as well as current programs and policies that exist to further women’s economic participation, both of which could include gender disaggregated data, an analysis of women’s participation in innovation, business and social aspects of the economy.

At their November 2011 Meeting, APEC Economic Leaders’ endorsed the San Francisco Declaration, which called for APEC members to take concrete actions to realize the full potential of women, integrate them more fully into APEC economies, and maximize their contributions towards economic growth.

Through the work of the PPWE/GFPN, a greater awareness of gender issues in APEC economies and groups is engendered. In particular gender-related concepts are increasingly understood as economic and social issues of national and regional importance in APEC economies. Many new policy issues relating to women and a gender-differentiated perspective have been put on the agendas of APEC economies as a result of the PPWE/GFPN’s initiatives.

The efforts of the PPWE/GFPN have increased the economies and decision-making participation of women within APEC. In 2005, the GFPN recommended to senior officials to increase women’s participation in the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). Since then, several economies have lobbied to appoint a women member as one of the three persons appointed to ABAC from each member economy.

The PPWE/GFPN’s gender integration initiatives have had significant influence on the gender policies of member economies, if not on the activities of all APEC groups. This can be seen as the beginnings of a regional APEC community of gender experts and gender aware officials and citizens, a community that is promoting and advancing the economic interests of women for the benefits of all APEC economies.

Nora Kakilala TERRADO (Ms)
Chair, APEC Women and the Economy Summit 2015
Undersecretary (Deputy Minister)
Department of Trade and Industry
The Philippines
Emmeline L. VERZOSA (Ms)
Executive Director
Philippine Commission on Women
Program Director
APEC Secretariat