Women’s Forum Chair: APEC Breaking Glass Ceilings

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Marcela_Huaita_AlegreEliminating barriers to greater women’s empowerment and inclusive growth in Pacific Rim economies will be the focus of actions taken by the region’s gender and economic development officials and business leaders during the 2016 APEC Women and the Economy Forum on 27-30 June in Lima, Peru.

In an interview, Marcela Huaita, Peru’s Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations and Chair of the forum, discussed policy inroads and next steps for APEC economies and the private sector on priorities ranging from women’s entrepreneurship and cross-border business development, to mitigating challenges impeding women in the workplace.

APEC: Please talk about APEC’s latest work to advance women’s economic empowerment.

Minister Huaita: On the technical side, we have several interesting initiatives, for example, making sure APEC projects have components that allow us to determine the distinctive impact they may have on the lives of men and women. Another is a web portal for women entrepreneurs to gain access to networks and linkages that support their participation in global value chains.

A tool that is also very interesting is an APEC dashboard that has indicators and statistics to monitor the economic and social situations of women in our economies. I would like to also refer to other efforts such as the “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies” initiative, which integrates APEC working groups on human resources development and health to develop policies for improving women’s health and productivity.

This includes policies for improving the working environment for women, for example, addressing violence against women, prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace and non-discrimination of women at childbearing age. It also includes policies that help women reconcile family life with the working world. Such policies can be taken into account and incorporated by our different economies.

APEC: What are the priorities of the 2016 APEC Women and Economy Forum? 

Minister Huaita: This year, Peru will host the APEC Women and Economy Forum in Lima from 27-30 June to break barriers for the economic integration of women in the global market. We have prioritized five themes: care systems that allow economic inclusion of women; the cost of gender violence; mechanisms to internationalize micro, small, and medium enterprises led by women; financial literacy for capital access; and digital literacy for economic integration. 

APEC: What do these priorities mean for Peru and for the Asia Pacific region? 

Minister Huaita: The five priorities of the 2016 APEC Women and the Economy Forum are fully aligned with member economies’ focus on advancing human growth and quality development. Some of them build on work that has been done in previous years, for example, measures related to digital literacy, financial literacy and the internationalization of micro, small and medium enterprises.

Other priorities address challenges that women continue to endure like violence against them which lead to increased services expenses, decreased productivity and declining incomes. Also, the reconciliation of family life with working life, and, therefore, the importance of developing care systems for dependents such as children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

APEC: What are your expectations for APEC’s gender initiatives and what they will achieve? 

Minister Huaita: Policies for women in APEC economies can be supported by the new tools which they are developing to advance this cause. Economies can incorporate them into their individual action plans so they can achieve effective results on gender issues and, therefore, increase the integration of women in the economy.

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