Seattle, 24 August 2023 (TDI): In a recent gathering in Seattle, APEC economies showcased their commitment to dismantling structural barriers that have hindered women and girls from reaping the full benefits of economic growth. The consensus was clear: intensified efforts are needed to eliminate these barriers and bridge the existing gaps.

The APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy, during its second meeting in Seattle, prioritized discussions on structural reform and the care economy.

These discussions revolved around various themes, including the intersection of gender and climate change, the role of micro, small, and medium enterprises, global value chains, digital inclusion, and e-commerce.

Chantelle Stratford, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy, emphasized the economic rationale behind gender equality. She remarked, “Gender equality makes economic sense.”

Highlighting the Asia-Pacific’s role as a growth driver in the 21st century, Stratford believes the region is strategically positioned to champion women’s economic empowerment.

A significant highlight was the emphasis on women’s representation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers.

Gabby Costigan, a member of the APEC Business Advisory Council, stressed the need for more comprehensive data on women in STEM. Such data is crucial for policymakers and businesses to identify gaps and formulate strategies to overcome barriers.

The meeting also featured insights from international organizations and academia on strengthening the connection between budgeting and gender objectives.

Discussions delved into the potential of fiscal policies and public financial management tools to further gender equality and the importance of a gender-centric approach in law-making.

Stratford pointed out the economic implications of undervaluing women’s participation, noting that it results in billions in lost revenue for economies.

She also highlighted the positive correlation between women’s involvement in trade-related activities and improved working conditions, better pay, and enhanced workplace opportunities.

APEC’s efforts align with the implementation of the La Serena Roadmap for Women and Inclusive Growth, which aims to boost women’s economic empowerment in the region.

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Stratford urged member economies to ramp up their efforts, emphasizing the importance of robust gender analyses and monitoring mechanisms to ensure tangible outcomes for women and girls.

In conclusion, Stratford expressed optimism about APEC’s potential to lead by integrating a gender perspective across its three pillars: trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation.

She believes such an approach will spotlight structural inequalities and direct efforts toward ensuring women can harness the benefits of economic transformation.

The next meeting of the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy, along with the APEC Women and the Economy Forum, is slated for 2024 in Peru.