Bangkok, Thailand, 6-7 March 2017 – The Australian Government, with the endorsement of the APEC Human Resources Development Working Group and collaboration from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), brought circa 100 representatives from APEC member countries together in a two-day workshop to discuss strategies for improving quality employment opportunities for women.
Women and men with an interest and expertise in women’s workforce participation were welcomed from government, business and civil society and multilateral organisations across 10 of the 21 APEC economies1. Over the two-day program, they shared their challenges and successes in realising women’s potential as skilled workers and entrepreneurs.
Investing in Women – Australia’s flagship gender project implemented in partnership with a number of APEC economies in Southeast Asia – contributed to discussion of policy solutions for women’s economic empowerment, with Investing in Women’s Gender Equality Director, Jane Hodges, presenting Investing in Women’s innovative approaches.
Ms Hodges also chaired a session on “Challenges to Women’s Economic Empowerment arising from the Changing World of Work” where the latest regional report of UN Women was launched.
The workshop follows the 2016 APEC Leaders’ Lima commitment to advance women’s participation in the economy.
“The workshop was extremely rich in examples of successful policy initiatives”, said Ms Hodges. “There were presentations from a wide range of APEC economies, such as Australia, Canada, China, Vietnam, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and the US. The overviews from Chile, Mexico, Philippines and the Asian Development Bank on the education-training-work interaction examined the conundrum of why well-educated women in the region aren’t getting good jobs or a fair go in growing their businesses.”
Ms Hodges said she particularly appreciated how the organisers brought together a variety of perspectives on economic empowerment of women as, on the one hand, workers who should enjoy decent wages and contractual stability (female domestic workers being cited in this debate) and, on the other hand, as entrepreneurs (regulatory red-tape and cultural biases against women in business being a hot topic).
Under Vietnam’s hosting of APEC during 2017, the workshop outcomes will be highlighted at APEC’s annual High-Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy and its Women and the Economy Forum (late September) ahead of the Economic Leaders’ Meeting (early November). Investing in Women stands ready to assist Hanoi Post in supporting this important economic diplomacy opportunity with APEC economies.
According to Hodges “Australians can be rightly proud of the results from several Government initiatives across APEC economies that were given space at this workshop to share how they overcome constraints in their various levels of intervention.” Participants heard not only from Investing in Women, but also from Australia’s MAMPU program, Better Work and the Triangle in ASEAN Project. “These programs are really making a difference for women across Asia and the Pacific” said Hodges. “That means that our neighbours are using all their resources for economic growth and decent work, becoming more prosperous and more stable – that is a good outcome for Australia.”
 The 21 APEC economies are : Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong-China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, NZ, PNG, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, US and Vietnam. IW covers three APEC economies : Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam (plus Myanmar, a non-APEC economy).