APEC members recognize that the full potential of women’s contributions to the Asia-Pacific economy remains untapped. As a result, women’s economic empowerment and the greater inclusion of women in the regional economy are high on APEC’s agenda.
There are approximately 600 million women in the region’s labor force, with over 60 percent of them engaged in the formal sector. Limiting their participation as a sector in the workforce across the Asia-Pacific region can cost the economy tens of billions of dollars every year.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate economic and social impact on women and girls, and governments across the region have acknowledged the need to place priority on them and on broadening inclusion in recovery efforts.
The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 envisages strong, balanced, secure, sustainable and inclusive growth as a key economic driver towards achieving an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040, with prosperity for all its people and future generations. The vision commits APEC leaders to pursuing quality growth that brings disclosure of economic potential, benefits, greater health and wellbeing to all, including women.
In 2019, APEC ministers endorsed the La Serena Roadmap for Women and Inclusive Growth to encourage initiatives across all of APEC’s workstreams to advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
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. 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.
The PPWE works to address the five key pillars impacting women’s economic empowerment:
- Access to capital
- Access to market
- Skills and capacity building
- Women’s leadership and agency
- Innovation and technology
An important tool for this work is the APEC Women and the Economy Dashboard, which is a set of indicators on the status of women in APEC’s member economies. The dashboard is a tool to track, measure and communicate progress in reducing barriers to women’s economic participation across the aforementioned five key pillars.
The APEC Policy Support Unit reported on the indicators under the dashboard for the first time in September 2015, using highly credible international data sources such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organization.
The dashboard’s indicators have been updated a number of times and a latest version of the dashboard was published in 2023. It can be accessed here. The PPWE is also responsible for the APEC Women and the Economy Sub-fund, which aims to institutionalize and provide ongoing support to advance APEC’s objectives of increasing women’s economic participation. Detailed instructions on the application process and the eligibility criteria for the Women and the Economy Sub-Fund can be accessed here.
Each year the APEC host works together with the PPWE and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to hold the Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) during which APEC ministers, senior business leaders and experts take stock on actions underway to progress APEC’s women and the economy agenda.
The Implementation Plan for the La Serena Roadmap on Women and Inclusive Growth identifies a specific role for the PPWE to support APEC senior officials in monitoring and evaluating progress on the roadmap’s implementation through to 2030.
Last page update: October 2023
The 2023 Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) was hosted in a hybrid format by the United States on 20 September 2023. The chair’s statement, reflecting the outcomes of the meeting attended by ministers and heads of delegation, can be found here.