The 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPDWE) opened in Hue city, on September 28, with the "Women Entrepreneurs Forum: She Means Business” event.

 Delegates join a group photo at the opening of the 2017 APEC Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy, Hue city, September 28. (Credit: UN Women)

Hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) in collaboration with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the forum, which is part of the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) of APEC, brought together 500 delegates from 21 APEC member economies to discuss enhancing women’s integration and economic empowerment.

Speaking at the opening session, Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh emphasised that globalisation and the 4.0 Industrial Revolution are creating opportunities for cooperation and international economic integration, whilst also posing a number of challenges, especially for women.

In order to enhance the economic empowerment of women in general, and business women in particular, especially in the digital age, the participation and contribution of women should be strengthened, Thinh said, stressing the need for creating a new impetus to push for sustained, creative and inclusive growth; enhancing the economic, financial and social coverage for women; and developing policies to take advantage of information technology in order to support women in business, marketing, product promotion, and networking.

Amidst the fluctuations in global job markets and significant challenges for business women, it is important to create a favourable environment for female entrepreneurs to access capital, property, experience and global markets, while enhancing the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women.

Opportunities and incentives should be created for business women to share between the public and private sectors, not just in economics but also in regional dimensions, such as among the APEC. It is also necessary to identify long-term directions in APEC cooperation on women's contributions and efforts to accelerate the accomplishment of APEC goals and the process of developing new APEC visions after 2020.

Vice State President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh speaks at the opening session of APEC PPDWE, Hue, on September 28. (Credit NDO)

This year’s PPDWE focused on women’s economic, financial and social inclusion – a driver for sustainable and inclusive growth; women entrepreneurs in a changing global market; promoting women’s entrepreneurship in the digital age and building a vision for women’s economic empowerment for Asia Pacific and beyond.

The above contents are also reflected in PPWE’s three priorities, including promoting gender equality for inclusive economic growth, improving the competitiveness and creativeness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women, whilst narrowing gender equality in human resources development. Established in 2011, PPWE’s goal is to advance the economic integration of women in the APEC region for the benefit of all of its members and to coordinate gender activities across other APEC working groups.

According to MOLISA Minister Dao Ngoc Dung, APEC currently has approximately 600 million women in the labour force, with more than 60% in the formal sectors, making up abundant resources and motivation for growth and socio-economic development. In the APEC region, women are increasingly involved in business operations and entrepreneurship.

According to the statistics, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women account for 97% of the total, contributing 20-50% of the GDP in APEC economies. However, they account for less than 35% of direct exports. This fact requires the APEC to focus on scale development, enhancing the regional integration capacity for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women, in addition to linking business associations and organisations to empower female entrepreneurs to improve their competitiveness, their active participation in policy implementation and their deepening integration in economics.

VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc said that the business potential of women is huge and needs to be aroused. He proposed smarter, more female-friendly economic policies for women, while calling on the women’s associations and the business community to work together to support each other more effectively in a creative, humane and inclusive economy.

He also suggested organising the APEC Women Entrepreneurs Forum annually to establish an APEC network of business entrepreneurs to share, learn and interact with each other, as well as making recommendations to leaders in coordinating the implementation of measures to support women-owned enterprises and those employing female workers.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri stated that gender equality and women’s empowerment is the most promising, untapped and highest return area of investment. It's the correct and smart investment and indispensable for poverty eradication, inclusive, sustained and rapid economic growth, as well as reducing inequality and leaving no one behind for the sustainable development of all, she added.

The PPDWE is one of the three main events under the APEC annual PPWE, demonstrating the APEC leaders' recognition of both the position and the great contributions of women and the importance and role of the private sector in sustainable and inclusive development.


                                                Source: NDO

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