Women’s economic empowerment flourishes in APEC

APEC’s initiatives to advance the economic integration of women across the Asia-Pacific have helped empower women and strengthened their contribution to the economy.

Setting the tone, the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy began a two-day meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday May 1st.

Emmeline Verzosa, the Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Women, said the group will draft new plans and projects that empower more women to be part of supply chains and provide women with access to technology, health services, finance and marketing.  

Delegates will finalize a strategic plan which will chart efforts of the 21 APEC member economies to promote women's economic empowerment. It will also discuss the implementation of the APEC Women and the Economy Dashboard which contains indicators to measure women's advancement.

“For growth to have a transformative effect on an economy and people, it needs to be inclusive, meaning all citizens – women and men, young and old, indigenous, migrant workers, persons with disabilities, and of diverse groups - contribute to as well the benefit from growth,” said Verzosa who is chairing the meeting.

“Inclusive growth translates to creating jobs, integrating the population into the economic and social mainstream, and reducing poverty,” she explained. “No one should be left behind.”

A senior representative participating in the meeting offered an example for how integrating gender policies and programs contribute toward inclusive growth.

“Providing access to financial services and microfinance in Papua New Guinea has significantly grown and has extended rapidly toward remote areas,” said Richard Yakam, Papua New Guinea’s Assistant Secretary for the Department of Commerce and Industry.

“The deployment of the ‘Mi-Cash’ program, bank accounts that can be accessed by mobile phones in Papua New Guinea, allow people to save money and pay bills,” Yakam continued. “These accounts have become popular among women.” 

With attention on inclusive growth, discussions on gender criteria for APEC projects and how these can be used to measure progress will continue through Monday. 

“APEC shall expand the region’s growth story to include a vision of economic prosperity and interconnectedness felt at all levels, beginning at the grassroots,” concluded Verzosa.