At Large

Apec talks ‘women and the economy’

/ 12:46 AM September 15, 2015

THE GOOD news is that the Philippines, at least according to the Global Gender Gap report for 2014, released by the World Economic Forum, remains the top performer in the Asia and the Pacific region in terms of gender equality.

The report studies the gap between women and men based on four main indicators: health and survival; educational attainment; economic participation; and political empowerment. The country maintained its top ranking in two indicators: education and health, out of the 142 countries surveyed in the index. Opportunities for improvement exist in political participation and economic participation where the country ranks 17th and 24th respectively.


Improving the performance and status of women—in the Philippines and in the other Apec economies—in terms of economic participation will be the main focus of the “Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPDWE)” which takes place Thursday at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Lead organizer of the event is the Women’s Business Council Philippines, cohosted by the Department of Trade and Industry. A total of 420 delegates from Apec economies are expected to take part, with some 400 local and foreign guests from the public and private sectors, academe and civil society.


The Apec Women and the Economy Fora emerged, a backgrounder says, “as a conscious effort by women representatives to take stock of past achievements, identify present and continuing barriers as well as appropriate interventions, and support future aspirations for women’s full participation.”

* * *

THE Apec Women and the Economy Fora is divided into three components.

The first is the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE), essentially the working group of the gathering, which directly reports to the senior officials through the Senior Officials’ Meeting Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation. The PPWE aims “to mainstream, elevate, and integrate gender responsive policies and programs focused on women’s economic empowerment into Apec activities to advance gender equality.” It is here where the draft Ministerial Statement is discussed for endorsement and approval by the ministers/heads of delegations to the High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy.

Another component is the PPDWE that supports the Policy Partnership by “gathering more participation from multi-sector key players from the private sector, academia, and civil society for dialogue and exchange of learning and best endeavors to advance gender integration, gender equality, and women’s economic empowerment agenda in Apec.”

The High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy is where the Women and the Economy Statement will be adopted, which is expected to deliver a set of “actionable, measurable, and concrete” policy recommendations gathered from the PPWE and PPDWE, which in turn will be endorsed to the Apec Economic Leaders Meeting in November.

Heading the organizing committee of the fora are three women from the government and private sectors: Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado of the Department of Trade and Industry, who is also chief of staff of the department and chair of the Apec WE 2015; Emmeline


Verzosa, executive director of the Philippine Commission on Women and chair of the PPWE; and Ma. Aurora “Boots” Geotina-Garcia, chair of the Women’s Business Council Philippines and lead discussant of the PPDWE.

* * *

SPEAKERS at the various fora include representatives of governments in the different Apec economies, private sector/business leaders and civil society representatives.

Delivering the opening speech is Doris Magsaysay-Ho, chair of the Apec Business Advisory Council, and president and CEO of Magsaysay Maritime Corp.

Discussing the “five pillars” of women’s participation in the economy are Heather Carroll Cox, chief of client experience and digital marketing head of Citi, who will speak on “access to capital and assets”; Hafimi bte Abdul Haadi of the LVK Group of Companies, on “access to markets”; Dr. Belen Garijo, CEO and president of Merck Healthcare, on “skills, capacity building and health”; Irene Natividad, president of the Global Summit of Women on “leadership, voice and agency”; and Chao-Chia Huang, managing director of LoFTechnology Inc., on “innovation and technology.”

TV host, celebrity manager and marketing consultant Boy Abunda moderates a session on “Young Women Leaders as Powerful Drivers of Change.” Among the speakers are Kathy Xiaosi Gong, founder and CEO of PinPoint and chair of the KG Inc. and Seeway Group; Anna Nesterova, CEO of Center Capital LLC; Marita Cheng, founder and executive director of Robogals Global; Victoria Lennox, cofounder and CEO of Start Up Canada; and Maria May-I Fabros, board member for youth of the Philippine Commission on Women.

* * *

THE rest of the day will be devoted to panel discussions, with equally distinguished and interesting speakers, on topics like “women in the international markets and global value chains,” “women and inclusive business,” and “women and sustainable development.”

Indeed, raising the profile of women in the economy, particularly in the Apec economies, requires cooperation among governments and government agencies, business groups and individual companies, and even leaders of civil society. The goal should be one and the same: to improve the lot of all women within the Apec economies, because bringing the fruits of development to societies necessitates ensuring a fair and equal share for all, but especially for oft-ignored women and girls.

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