APEC Tackles Gender Divides to Solidify Workforces
Hue City, Viet Nam, 29 September 2017
Ministers and officials from the APEC member economies have convened in Hue City to advance women’s economic empowerment needed to secure workforces and growth as profound forces shift the Asia-Pacific landscape.
Together they are introducing new joint actions to ease barriers to greater labor participation and entrepreneurship, seeking to navigate demographic and digital change by enhancing women’s access to capital and markets; skills development; leadership; and application of innovation and technology.
They are building on policy consultations with women leaders, entrepreneurs and business and gender groups on evolving areas of need and viability issues, undertaken here during the four-day APEC Women and the Economy Forum.
“Many APEC economies have succeeded in reducing income inequality between men and women but significant gaps in economic opportunities persist,” explained Viet Nam Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dzung, Chair of the culminating APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy.
“In the context of regional economic integration and enhancing competitiveness, investment in skills and productivity for women should be seen as one of the priorities of policymaking,” Minister Dzung continued.
Work underway in APEC to address these issues is becoming increasingly urgent as aging populations and falling birth rates shrink labor forces and put economies at risk. Ministers and officials are taking into account the progress of grassroots efforts to mitigate these challenges through gender conscious reforms.
“The world is changing rapidly and women leaders are needed more than ever in order to bring the diverse range of perspectives needed to solve today’s complicated issues. Now is the time to enter the next stage of promoting work-life balance,” said Fumiko Hayashi, Mayor of Yokohama.
She pointed to the importance of improving childcare services, family leave policies and coordination with businesses to encourage the introduction of teleworking. The deployment of such measures have helped to raise labor participation among women in the Japanese port city and offer guidance to economies across the region, at all levels.
“However difficult a problem may seem to be, by working hand in hand and combining our strengths, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” Mayor Hayashi concluded.
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