Nusa Dua, Bali. Ministers and delegates have welcomed recommendations made during the APEC Women and the Economy Forum that are aimed at improving the participation of women within the region’s economy
The three-day meeting by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation came to a close on Sunday with a high-level policy dialogue that included suggestions from the panel such as the need for governments to encourage and incentive the private sector to invest in the empowerment of women throughout their business operations; the development of programs and structural reforms that close the gender technology divide; and flexible workplace policies that enable women to better balance work and family responsibilities.
The recommendations “send a strong signal from the business community that the economic inclusion of women is critical for business performance and economic prosperity,” according to a joint ministerial statement.
Recognizing the untapped talent of women within the region’s economy, each APEC member nation agreed to cooperate and establish programs and policies that promote women’s economic empowerment.
Speaking after the event, Sri Danti Anwar, secretary of the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry of Indonesia, said that the forum’s focus was to fully realize women’s potential in the economy.
“Through the formulation of gender responsive policies in accessing finance and ICT [information and communication technologies] as well as capacity building … we hope that SMEs [small and medium-size enterprises] and women entrepreneurs can synergize and collaborate,” Danti told the Jakarta Globe.
The third annual APEC forum was the first time a joint ministerial meeting responsible for SME and women empowerment was hosted.
Indonesia’s initiative was praised throughout the event for highlighting links between APEC’s activities in SME development and women’s economic empowerment.
The main concern now is to realize the commitments made during the forum, Danti said.
The Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry will disseminate the outcome documents from the APEC meeting to relevant stakeholders, while advocating for the recommendations to other ministries’ policies.
In the wake of the APEC forum Danti said her ministry intends to conduct gender awareness programs and analysis trainings in order to identify the key issues, which it plans to resolve through planning and budgeting with a gender perspective.
Kate Bollinger, the Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment program officer, commended the forum as “an important opportunity for discussions and collaboration surrounding many of the key areas that continue to constrain women in business.”
“This year’s theme of ‘Women as Economic Drivers’ is indeed a good sign that women’s issues are becoming increasingly prominent,” Bollinger said.
While women in Indonesia face many barriers in business, they are more likely to use business-related technologies and have stronger networks, she said.