APEC Women and the Economy 2016 Forum Statement

BREAKING BARRIERS TO THE ECONOMIC INTEGRATION OF WOMEN IN THE GLOBAL MARKET

30 June 2016

  1. We, APEC Ministers, Heads of Delegations, Senior Officials, ABAC and private sector leaders, and representatives from non-governmental organizations, met in Lima, Peru, from June 27 to 30, 2016 for the APEC Women and the Economy Forum. The meeting was chaired by Her Excellency Marcela Huaita, Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations of Peru.
  2. We acknowledge the 2016 APEC theme “Quality Growth and Human Development” focusing on four priorities 1) advancing regional economic integration and quality growth; 2) enhancing the regional food market; 3) working towards the modernization of micro, small and medium-size enterprises in the Asia-Pacific; and 4) developing human capital.
  3. This meeting built upon the achievements of the first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Women held in Manila in 1998, which paved the way for the drafting of the Framework for the Integration of Women in the APEC agenda. The Framework has guided all APEC fora in integrating gender equality and women’s economic empowerment into APEC processes and activities. It also considers progress made by all successive meetings on women and the economy up to 2015, and recognizes the five year anniversary of the 2011 San Francisco Declaration at the High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy.
  4. We welcomed APEC Leaders’ acknowledgement in 2015 of women’s vital contribution to economic and social development and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region and beyond, as well as their commitment to pursue concrete policies and innovative measures to further enhance women’s economic empowerment, and seek greater inclusion of women in the regional economy, in particular, through improved access to capital and assets; access to markets; skills, capacity building, and health; women’s leadership, voice and agency; and innovation and technology.
  5. We also welcome APEC Leaders’ call for strengthened efforts to support the mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment across APEC’s work streams as an important axis on which to invest in human capital development.
  6. We recognize the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that states that achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls will make a crucial contribution to progress across all the goals and targets, and recognizes that women and girls must enjoy equal access to quality education, economic resources and political participation as well as equal opportunities with men and boys for employment, leadership and decision-making at all levels. As we embark on this collective journey we pledge our commitment to no one being left behind.
  7. We acknowledge that APEC offers an opportunity for international collaboration between policy makers and business leaders, including those in the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), and that the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) further facilitates the improvement of women’s economic participation and empowerment helps develop programs that will train and promote women leaders.
  8. We affirm the critical role of men and boys in the achievement and realization of gender equality. We recognize the importance of having a systematic approach in engaging men in the promotion of women’s economic empowerment, including recognition and redistribution of unpaid and domestic work, elimination of gender-based violence, and advancement of women’s political participation.  
  9. Breaking barriers to the economic integration of women in the global market

  10. The main theme of the 2016 APEC WE Forum, “Breaking Barriers to Economic Integration of Women in the Global Market” recognized that there is still existing gender inequality across the Asia- Pacific region that prevent the full participation of women in global value chains. For women to become both drivers and beneficiaries of inclusive growth and development, tailor-made strategies must be implemented and evaluated.
  11. The 2016 APEC WE Forum also tackled five sub-themes: 1) Economy Care Systems: Recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work for inclusive growth; (2) Costs of gender-based violence in the context of economic development; (3) Mechanisms for the internationalization of MSMEs led by women; (4) Financial and economic literacy and inclusion for access to capital; and (5) Digital literacy for economic inclusion.
  12. We welcome the outcomes of the Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPDWE) (which are presented in Annex C). The PPDWE called on all stakeholders to continue pursuing a women’s economic empowerment agenda in order to create new opportunities for women, highlighting in particular the need for collaboration between public and private sectors in APEC.
  13. Economy Care Systems: Recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work for inclusive growth

  14. We acknowledge that across all economies and cultures, women and girls carry out the majority of unpaid care including caring for children, the elderly and people with disabilities as well as domestic work such as cleaning and cooking. As a consequence, women often work fewer hours in paid and formal employment compared to men. They are also often not appropriately recognized for the excessive hours of unpaid work or for the value they create for their families and communities. We recognize that this unequal burden is a powerful constraint against women´s progress in education, market and entrepreneurial activities, and employment, and results in limited access to employment-related social protection.
  15. We encourage the creation and expansion of public and private services and investments in APEC economies to reduce the burden of unpaid care and domestic work on women and girls. The expansion of accessible and quality care systems, including childcare, healthcare and other care services creates greater flexibility and options to redistribute unpaid care work away from girls and women’s responsibility, and promotes the value of such work. At the same time, improved infrastructure, including transportation, water and sanitation, can support time and labour-savings for women and increase their ability to participate in the formal economy.
  16. We encourage public and private sector employers throughout the region to offer decent work - meaning access to productive jobs, adequate wages, socially protected in regard to basic rights and without any form of discrimination -along with offering options such as flexible work schedules, compensatory leave, and telework to employees, women and men alike. These options would allow workers to take the time necessary to meet caring responsibilities for others as well as themselves.
  17. We call on all APEC economies to offer educational programs and management trainings on gender equality working with key stakeholders to value women’s unpaid care and domestic work, and raise awareness so that this work is recognized for its contribution to economic welfare in the Asia-Pacific region.  We also call for more co-responsibility strategies and policies to redistribute unpaid and domestic work between women and men and increase paid and formal employment for women.
  18. We recognize that additional research is needed in the area of gender inequality in unpaid care including  domestic work to assess the implication of unpaid care on labor outcomes, including labor force participation rates, occupational segregation in the labor force, and quality of employment and wages. We call for additional work in this area to continue to quantify the socio-economic disadvantages caused by the asymmetrical distribution of unpaid care and domestic work.
  19. Costs of gender-based violence in the context of economic development

  20. We acknowledge that gender-based violence is highly prevalent in the home, workplace and public spaces and adversely affects human, social and economic development, not only because it is a violation of women and girls human rights, but also because of its high economic costs in terms of expenditure for the provision of services (e.g. health services), loss of income, decreased productivity of victims and survivors, and the negative impacts on families. Gender-based Violence also has a negative impact on future human capital due to its inter-generational consequences.
  21. We acknowledge that a better working environment and healthy motivated employees have positive economic effects, as they increase productivity and profits. In this sense, the adoption of strategies on gender- based violence  prevention in the workplace have positive economic and non-economic effects for companies, such as increased productivity resulting in increased corporate earnings and benefits.
  22. We encourage APEC economies at regional, and local levels, in conjunction with the private sector, and non-governmental organizations to take action to disseminate information and facilitate communication campaigns to prevent and protect women from violence. We also encourage the establishment of Public-Private Partnerships that develop and implement violence prevention strategies in the home, workplace and public spaces. We also encourage APEC economies to ensure that support services  and mechanisms, including in the workplace are in place to help women who may be experiencing gender based violence.
  23. We reiterate our commitment to the implementation of decisions of the APEC Women and the Economy 2015 Fora Statement, where we emphasized gender equality is an important aspect of accessing international markets and global value chains, and underscored the importance of integrating a gender perspective into the overall business operations and analytical frameworks, including production, sourcing, marketing and consumption, to ensure that gender-based barriers are addressed.
  24. We recognize that women entrepreneurs face a range of financial and non-financial challenges when realizing their growth potential, affecting women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) throughout the business life cycle and particularly during the startup stages. We remain committed to providing peer and expert insight on how women-led MSMEs can overcome obstacles in exporting their goods and/or services; to exchanging experiences and sharing best practices in the adoption of policies that can effectively increase the participation of women in global trade.
  25. We welcome the APEC agreement on Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs[1]  to implement one of eight group actions as strengthening focus on MSMEs led by women by i) fostering the use of gender-disaggregated data in measuring the economic and social impacts on MSMEs; ii) promoting an understanding of the divergent constraints faced by male and female-led MSMEs; and iii) encouraging exchange of best practices on women-friendly interfaces with customs and other border authorities. Additionally, we welcome the endorsement in the Boracay Action Agenda of a common goal towards 2020 to identify indicators in order to track the region’s progress and the progress of individual members and seek future actions to enable MSMEs in the region to “go global”.
  26. We encourage stimulating Public-Private Partnerships and other multi-stakeholder initiatives to help businesses led by women reach international markets. Opportunities include trade missions and trade shows (real and virtual), export guarantees and credits, training programs, mentorship opportunities and networking,  access to new technologies, addressing regulatory barriers.
  27. Financial and economic literacy and inclusion for access to capital

  28. We recognize that women entrepreneurs and women in general, face challenges relating to economic and financial inclusion and face unequal treatment when evaluated as loan candidates, which limit their ability compared to their male peers, to access financial system and services. External financing and the availability of business loans is especially important for women’s current and new ventures as they generally have fewer ownership rights and less access to property or other assets. We call on APEC economies to undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as equal access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, and inheritance.
  29. We take into consideration that gender disparities in access to financial education and services can have negative effects not only on women entrepreneurs, but on the overall Asia Pacific-regional economy. We are committed to addressing the lack of financial literacy among women and girls in the Asia Pacific-Region, to facilitate a positive impact on women’s financial security through improved money management and access to appropriate financial services and products, and to develop and achieve entrepreneurial activities. We encourage involvement and coordination among relevant stakeholders, including public, private and non-governmental organizations concerned with gender issues to increase financial and economic literacy and inclusion for access to capital.
  30. We acknowledge that empowering rural and indigenous women is key to well-being of families and communities and also to economic productivity given women’s large presence in the agricultural workforce. Rural and indigenous women are valuable agents for achieving economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. Since they face limited access to credit, health care and education, in addition to unequal access to assets, it is important to design public policies that consider their specific needs.
  31. Digital literacy for economic inclusion

  32. We recognized the benefits of ICT and related services on empowering women by creating an environment to participate in community-based activities, increasing business and employment opportunities and establishing business-enabling networks that address women’s needs. We further acknowledge that by embracing ICT, women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region can access e-commerce platforms and that the removal of barriers to international online markets and to become more competitive in global value chains.
  33. Given that new financial technology tools have arisen to offer additional funding and operating options for entrepreneurs, we call on public and private sector stakeholders to engage women in adopting financial resources through innovative technology such as crowdfunding, micro-loans and digital payment as part of new avenues for business in the future. We encourage efforts towards building the digital capacities of girls and women through active participation in ICT education and training programs, especially those aimed at women entrepreneurs, which include investing in targeted digital literacy, confidence, and skills development for women through mentoring and networking. We further recognize the need to strengthen women and girls’ access to and participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)education and careers. We welcome the Women in STEM initiative, established in an effort to address capacity building priorities identified under the Women and the Economy Dashboard.
  34. We shall continue supporting the development of technology content, applications and services that meet women’s needs. This includes fostering user-driven approaches to technology development, prioritizing investments in applications and tools, such as e-learning and education for women’s financial inclusion, mobile accounts, employment and entrepreneurship through the development of digital abilities and in digital segments.
  35. We encourage multi-stakeholder involvement to address common impediments and to promote communication and collaboration amongst the private, public and non-governmental sectors aimed at facilitating women’s access to ICT enabled services which will be of particular use to policy makers in the development of a sustainable and equitable business environment for women.
  36. Integration of gender perspectives across APEC

  37. We commend efforts by APEC sub-fora to integrate gender in their work, including ongoing collaborations with the PPWE, such as those highlighted in Annex B in the areas of skills building, increasing economic participation through better health, promoting the inclusion of women in the transportation sector, incorporating gender perspectives into emergency preparedness and disaster recovery and resilience, supporting women-owned MSMEs, and enhancing educational opportunities for women. We call on all APEC sub-fora to continue integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment in their work planning and annual reports. 
  38. We recognize the updated Guide on Gender Criteria and the APEC Women and the Economy Dashboard as useful tools to ensure integration of gender perspectives across APEC. Assessing projects using the gender criteria enables a conscious effort in engaging women in all aspects of APEC’s work and in increasing women’s participation in the region. The Dashboard is a tool to track, measure, and communicate progress in reducing barriers to women’s economic participation across our five key priorities. We call on APEC economies to leverage the Dashboard as a tool to inform policymaking and capacity building across all APEC work streams, and improve and expand data collection to strengthen the Dashboard’s utility and impact.
  39. Towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women

  40. We, APEC ministers, heads of delegations, senior officials, ABAC, representatives of non-governmental organizations and private sector leaders, affirm the need to eliminate barriers to women’s economic integration in the global market to work towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women, as well as building a better APEC region and a more inclusive world.
  41. We call for further actions from APEC economies to increase gender diversity on executive boards and in senior management of companies which positively affects corporate sustainability and growth..  We reaffirm our commitment to promote women´s participation in economic activities by setting measurable and aspirational voluntary goals which economies could work toward by the end of 2020.
  42. We recognize the importance of incorporating an intercultural approach on policies to encourage the participation of women in the economy and their full empowerment. An intercultural perspective is essential to adequately address the different social and political needs of women living in member economies of APEC. To this extent, we commit to advances in recognizing and incorporating women’s demands for empowerment that support particular values regarding the organization of the economy, and its relationship to the environment.
  43. APEC Women and the Economy 2017 Forum

  44. We look forward to our next APEC Women and the Economy Forum and other related activities in Viet Nam, in 2017.
  45. Towards APEC Peru 2016 Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima

  46. We agree to submit this APEC Women and the Economy 2016 Forum Statement as our contribution to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting held in November in Lima, Peru.

[1] The Agreement on Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs: Fostering the Participation of APEC MSMEs in Regional and Global Markets , 2015 Meeting of APEC Ministers responsible for Trade, Boracay, Philippines 24 May 2015