Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy Working Group

APEC members recognize that the full potential of women’s contribution to the Asia-Pacific economy remains untapped. As a result, women’s economic empowerment and the greater inclusion of women in the regional economy are high on APEC’s agenda.

A recent United Nations report states that the limits on women’s participation in the workforce across the Asia-Pacific region cost the economy an estimated USD 89 billion every year.

Currently, in the 21 APEC economies, approximately 600 million women are in the labor force, with over 60 per cent engaged in the formal sector.

The goal of the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) is to advance the economic integration of women in the APEC region for the benefit of all members and to coordinate gender activities across other APEC working groups.

The PPWE was established at the second Senior Officials’ Meeting in May 2011 held at Big Sky, Montana. It combined the former APEC Gender Focal Point Network and the private sector-oriented Women’s Leadership Network—creating a single public-private entity to streamline and elevate the influence of women’s issues within APEC.

The PPWE works to address the five key pillars impacting women’s economic empowerment including:

  • Access to capital  
  • Access to market
  • Skills and capacity building
  • Women’s leadership and agency
  • Innovation and technology.

The PPWE’s activities are guided by its terms of reference, the Strategic Plan for 2015-2018 and its annual workplans.

From 2018 onward, the PPWE will also be responsible for a newly established APEC Women and the Economy Sub-fund, which aims to institutionalize and provide ongoing support to advance APEC’s objectives of increasing women’s economic participation.  Detailed instructions on the application process and the eligibility criteria for the Women and the Economy Sub-Fund can be accessed HERE.

Each year the APEC host works together with the PPWE and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to hold the Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) during which APEC ministers, senior business leaders and experts take stock on actions underway to progress APEC’s Women and the Economy agenda.

Last page update: December 2017 

Current Activities

The annual Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) was held in Hue City, Viet Nam, from 26-29 September 2017.  Three main component of the meetings were held as following:

The theme of the 2017 APEC WEF was ‘Enhancing Women’s Economic Inclusion and Empowerment in the Changing World’ with three priorities:

  1. Promoting gender equality for sustainable, innovative and inclusive economic growth
  2. Enhancing the competitiveness and innovation of women-owned MSMEs
  3. Narrowing gender gaps in human resource development. 

The statement issued by APEC ministers and heads of delegations shared the view that gender equality and women’s economic inclusion and empowerment are central to the vision of inclusive and sustainable growth of the 2030 development agenda and noted that the Digital Age is having unprecedented impact on women’s economic inclusion and empowerment. 

They encouraged the development of concrete and actionable measures to advance women’s economic, financial and social inclusion across APEC fora and endorsed the PPWE’s Gender Inclusion Guidelines as a tool to implement gender-responsive policies and programs across APEC.

They also committed further to encouraging gender diversity at management levels, including in senior leadership and governance structures. Ministers recognized that governments, the private sector and civil society must work collaboratively to create an environment that will enable women to benefit from the changing world of work through their full, equal and effective participation in it.

Ministers and delegation heads also welcomed the outcomes of the Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPD-WE). The resulting statement was their contribution to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November, in Viet Nam.

Current Initiatives and Projects:

Women’s Leadership

In 2014 APEC Ministers, encouraged all APEC economies to work toward defining and establishing measurable and aspirational voluntary goals. These goals include mainstreaming women’s roles in leadership and representation in decision-making, in both the public and private sectors.

APEC economies were encouraged to adopt these initiatives by the end of 2020.  Recognizing that increasing the participation of women in economic activities will serve as catalyst to economic growth, APEC action focusing on leadership, decision making, and management, is underway.  Each participating APEC economy develops an Individual Action Plan (IAP) for the Enhancement of the Ratio of Women’s Representation in Leadership as a mechanism towards increasing women’s representation in leadership. In the IAP, each economy is encouraged to set a voluntary target based on their indicators and definitions while taking into account the individual economic and social circumstances of each economy.  All IAPs are available here.

In order to further promote women’s representation in leadership and accelerate the voluntary goals and the momentum of the initiative of each economy, this project also explores and takes stock of good practices of the policies, as well as actions taken for promoting women’s representation in leadership through the mid-term review study and public-private dialogue held as a side event during WEF 2017.


Launched in 2016, the APEC Business Efficiency and Success Target Awards (APEC BEST Awards) was the first annual contest for women-entrepreneurs across the APEC region. The APEC BEST Awards seeks to raise women’s awareness on the benefits of self-employment and help women-entrepreneurs to internationalize their businesses, attract international partners and potential investors from APEC economies.

The contest also contributes to building networks among women entrepreneurs, consultants, mentors and investors across the APEC region. Spreading best practices of women-owned SMEs among APEC economies provides an opportunity to involve a larger number of women into entrepreneurship, create new jobs in different industries, and support economic growth and development by applying promising business models based on domestic success stories.

The second APEC BEST Awards was held on 27 September 2017 in the margins of the Women and the Economy Forum in Hue, Viet Nam.

Diversity Management for Women’s Empowerment

In the APEC 2016 Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) Statement, all economies were encouraged to increase gender diversity on executive boards and in senior management of companies which positively affect corporate sustainability and growth.

In order to deepen the WEF’s achievements , this project aims to enhance women’s empowerment through the facilitation of mutual-understanding and awareness for diversity management through following two activities:

  • To take stock of actions relating to diversity management and women’s empowerment, and to share them as good practices among APEC economies
  • To organize an APEC Top Management Forum on Diversity Management for Women’s Empowerment in Tokyo for sharing good practices, discussing obstacles and identifying key challenges for facilitating diversity management and women’s empowerment

Promoting Women in Decision Making Positions in the Public and Private Sector

One of the planned activities is the conduct of a workshop to exchange ideas and promote best practices for the implementation of suitable policies to increase women’s representation in leadership roles across both public and private sectors. The resulting report of the workshop will serve as reference to economies to identify the best policies to promote the inclusion of women in decision making positions in the public and private sectors.

Sex-Disaggregated Data Collection

The Women and the Economy Dashboard is a set of 75 indicators on the status of women in APEC’s member economies. The Dashboard is a tool to track, measure, and communicate progress in reducing barriers to women’s economic participation across our five key pillars:

  1. Access to capital and assets
  2. Access to markets
  3. Skills, capacity building, and health
  4. Leadership, voice, and agency
  5. Innovation and technology.

The APEC Policy Support Unit reported on the indicators under the Dashboard for the first time in September 2015, using highly credible international data sources such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, the World Economic Forum, and the World Health Organization.

The Dashboard’s indicators were assessed and reported on for the second time in 2017.

Women’s Economic Empowerment and Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

The Women’s Economic Empowerment and ICT project will be implemented to update APEC women about the current trends and features of the 4th Industrial Revolution; to compile and share success stories of women entrepreneurs in the ICT and smart technology-based industry; and to prepare APEC women for business opportunities in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Women’s Access to Financial Services

This self-funded project, called Women’s Access to Financial Services – Data in the APEC Region, proposes to conduct of a survey on the number of women that have access to various financial services that support women’s participation in starting up and expanding existing women’s businesses. The project aims to encourage economies to set targets to work towards developing relevant policies of financial inclusion programs.

Women’s Entrepreneurship

The Women's Entrepreneurship in APEC (WE-APEC) initiative, launched in 2014, examined each economy's efforts with respect to business networks, private-sector initiatives, and government services in support of women's entrepreneurship.

Summaries of all 21 economies, including details about their respective networks, initiatives and services, can be accessed and enhanced to strengthen eco-systems that support women's entrepreneurship. The WE-APEC online platform (www.we-apec.com) is a dynamic directory of service providers for women-owned businesses across APEC and provides a way for governments, the private sector, business networks and entrepreneurs to connect.

To make it work better, capacity building activities will be implemented and the WE-APEC platform will be improved to include a mobile platform for better use with mobile devices.

Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business

The APEC Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business Project was approved in 2016 for implementation until the end of 2017 in collaboration with the IEG. This Project looks into the broader aspect of Inclusive Business (IB) both in theory and practice, and zooms into how women’s economic empowerment serves as vital contribution in the development, scale-up, and replication of IB models in the Asia Pacific region. In support to this, a survey was conducted which aimed to draw out a balanced analysis that would reflect the majority of APEC member economies, and present conclusions and recommendations that would be supportive of APEC as a whole.  However, due to the difficulty in gathering inputs for the research study, the 2017 APEC Seminar on Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business was held on 26 September 2017 in Hue, Viet Nam to further enhance the content and substance of the study, prior its finalization and publication for circulation to the APEC member economies.

Women in STEM

Launched in 2016, the APEC Women in STEM initiative involves a range of activities, including an APEC-wide survey of initiatives aimed at strengthening the presence of women in STEM educational programs and careers. To help APEC economies tackle the issue of women in STEM, a framework was developed and endorsed with four key pillars:

  1. Enabling environment
  2. Education
  3. Employment
  4. Entrepreneurship.

Steps taken in 2017 include:

  • Organizing a capacity building workshop on Women in STEM Framework
  • Identifying private-sector partners who can serve as co-champions of the APEC initiative
  • Bringing the APEC Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI) formally on board as a cross-fora partner
  • Developing an implementation work plan based on outcomes of the Workshop. 

Related News

See all news


WE boss

The “Innovation for Women and Economic Development: Facilitating Women’s Livelihood Development and Resilience with ICTs” multi-year project (2013-2016) was initiated to identify the key elements on promoting the economic involvement of women with technology and innovative IT tools.


Launched in 2016, APEC BEST Award is the first contest for women-entrepreneurs across the APEC region.

Women in STEM

Launched in 2016, the APEC Women in STEM initiative involves a range of activities, including an APEC-wide survey of initiatives aimed at strengthening the presence of women in STEM educational programs and careers.




See all events
03 - 07 Sep

Women and the Economy Forum

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
03 - 04 Sep

Second Meeting of the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
04 Sep

Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy Management Council Meeting

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
05 Sep

High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Contact Us

Ms Anais Kedgley LAIDIAW

Program Director

Mr Fredrick Tamarua

Chair, Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy
Assistant to the SOM Chair
Office of the State Solicitor
Department of Justice and Attorney General
Papua New Guinea