2018 APEC Women and the Economy Forum
“Seizing Opportunities for Women and Girls to Advance in the Digital Age”

5-7 September 2018, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Women, including indigenous women and women in remote and rural areas, make vital contributions to economic and social development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, and commit to take concrete actions to further promote the full advancement of women as a means of realizing sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The 2018 WEF theme of “Seizing Opportunities for Women and Girls to Advance in the Digital Age” draws focus on the new digital frontier and the opportunities and challenges it presents for women and girls. Four main priority areas are: (1) Empowering Women to Participate in the Digital Economy; (2) Gender Inclusion and Empowerment: a catalyst for growth in all sectors; (3) Leadership; and (4) Forging Partnerships, Narrowing the Gap.

Empowering Women to Participate in the Digital Economy

Women are important contributors to economic growth, and it is crucial to explore ways to unleash the potential of women in the economy. In addition, digital economy is a useful tool for unleashing the economic potential of women and girls, and to take advantage of the opportunities that transformative technology provides. 

Building on efforts in APEC in various areas, economies are urged to work towards creating opportunities for women to participate in the global economy including through; fostering conducive environments for women to start and run businesses; promoting women-owned MSMEs and women entrepreneurship in the digital economy; improving access to quality employment; advancing skills and resources, such as digital literacy and identity protection so that women can safely benefit from digital access to the fullest extent; and developing policies to improve access to finance, markets, start-up capital, and capacity building. Moreover, the role that trade promotion organizations can play to equip women entrepreneurs with the skills to build their businesses’ export capacity and strengthen MSMEs competitiveness and ability to participate in global markets and value chains.

With the many opportunities that information and communication technology (ICT) has on offer to improve the livelihood of women and girls, including the way they transact and interact, member economies, and especially the private sector, are encouraged to continue efforts to narrow the digital divide and to harness opportunities, and respond to challenges associated with digitization. Economics are encouraged to share the best practices and experiences of APEC women entrepreneurs in utilizing ICT to advance gender equality and support women’s access to ICT and encourage women’s income growth, including through e-commerce.

Gender Inclusion and Empowerment: a catalyst for growth in all sectors

It is important to encourage a holistic approach towards promoting gender inclusion and empowering women in the region. Women may face sector-specific challenges that prevent their full and non-discriminatory participation in the workforce. Economics are encouraged to continue efforts in promoting sectoral approaches to exploring opportunities and addressing challenges faced by women working in STEAM, transportation and infrastructure, MSMEs, and health, and for advancing discussions in 2018 on tourism, agriculture and fisheries, mining and the extractives, and energy. Therefore, regulatory and structural reform are important to remove behind the border barriers affecting businesses across the region in order to enhance the functioning of markets and institutions that support their effective functioning; increase productivity; and support inclusive growth and women’s economic empowerment, in line with broader APEC efforts on structural reform.


The number of women in key leadership positions in government, business and at the community-levels is increasing. However, there is more can be done to achieve gender parity. Women’s representation and voice for balanced decision-making at the highest levels of politics and government. Therefore, economies are encouraged to enhance the ratio of women’s representation in leadership and enhance gender diversity management. Moreover, educating and encouraging men in leadership and decision making roles to aspire to achieving gender equality in all areas are also important.

Forging Partnerships, Narrowing the Gap

Men and boys play in the full realization of women as equal contributors to economic growth and gender equality. Economics are encouraged to ensure gender mainstreaming and ensuring that men and boys strategically engage in leadership, management and decision-making levels to drive efforts in the APEC region on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. 

PPWE should increase engagement with the private sector and the relevant APEC fora to strengthen efforts to promote gender inclusion at all levels and in all sectors. The immense potential that well-coordinated and consistent partnership with the private sector has to catapult progress towards the full realization of the potential of women in the economy. Economics are encouraged to continue collaboration with ABAC, and welcome ABACs efforts to connect business women and promote women’s entrepreneurship through digital solutions.

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