Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a primary regional vehicle for promoting trade and investment and practical economic cooperation. The end result of APEC activities throughout the region include increased trade, expanded employment opportunities and ultimately ongoing community development.
APEC has a membership of 21 economic jurisdictions with a population of over 2.5 billion. The combined APEC GDP is 19 trillion US dollars accounting for 47 percent of world trade. As a core set of objectives, APEC is working to achieve what are referred to as the 'Bogor Goals' of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for developed economies and 2020 for developing economies. APEC's trade and investment liberalization and facilitation efforts have contributed to strong economic growth and development in the Asia-Pacific.
One of the great benefits of this improved interaction and trade between APEC economies has been the increased participation of women in all facets of economic life in our region. APEC's experience demonstrates that globalization can be a positive force for reducing poverty and with this improving the lives of women. However much remains to be done to ensure that women reap the benefits of economic development and trade liberalization. APEC has placed strong emphasis on gender integration and has given priority to these issues in the approval and implementation of projects.
In 1999 APEC Economic Leaders welcomed the Framework for the Integration of Women in APEC. The Framework provides a practical and systematic approach to guide APEC in the achievement of the integration of women in the mainstream of APEC processes and activities. It comprises three inter-related elements: gender analysis; collection and use of sex-disaggregated data; and involvement of women in APEC fora.
A SOM Ad-hoc Group on Gender Integration (AGGI) was formed to monitor and ensure the implementation of the Framework across APEC and strengthen the institutional capacity for the implementation of the Framework. The AGGI was tasked to complement the responsibility and accountability of individual APEC fora for the implementation of the Framework.
APEC projects on gender integration have focused on increasing awareness of the Framework amongst APEC fora; developing sustainable gender integration practices and consolidating resources to help integrate gender into the APEC agenda. AGGI work has included:-
  • Undertaking 28 Gender Integration Sessions in various APEC fora as well as SOM and the APEC Secretariat since March 2000;
  • Developing gender criteria for use in all applications of APEC project funding;
  • Organizing an intensive workshop that was attended by 16 economies on the development and use of sex-disaggregated data;
  • Publishing a booklet on gender mainstreaming which provided case studies of best practices;
  • Developing an improved format for providing information to SOM for its report to the Ministers on the implementation of the Framework;
  • Developing the APEC website dedicated to gender integration; and
  • Developing a gender resource kit which will provide a durable source of gender information.
A recent development in efforts to provide further focus for APEC gender integration activities have been the creation of an APEC Gender Focal Point Network (GFPN). This project was endorsed by Ministers from APEC economies attending the 14th APEC Ministerial Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico in October 2002. It is envisaged that the GFPN will work to maintain investment in gender tools, expertise and practices; and continue APEC leadership on issues that affect the economic advancement of women in the APEC region.
The broad goal of GFPN will be to provide linkages for information sharing and support between APEC Fora, APEC Economies and the APEC Secretariat. This is as one of the ways APEC is working to advance the economic interests of women in the Asia-Pacific region for the benefit of all economies in the APEC region. GFPN will maintain and advance the implementation of the Framework and the work of SOM Ad-hoc Group on Gender Integration in maintaining awareness of gender issues.
In summary, the GFPN will:
  • Assist APEC forums, working groups and committees to identify and address gender issues within their scope of work;
  • Promote and report on women's representation across APEC and within individual fora;
  • Assess and report on the use of gender criteria in project proposals, reporting and evaluations, and as a consequence, revising the gender criteria where appropriate;
  • Collect and share good practices in gender integration amongst fora;
  • Support and report on the progress of implementation of gender integration within individual fora and across APEC economies;
  • Facilitate provision of gender expert advice by women with expertise related to APEC at all levels.
APEC's gender integration programs will include working with members of the Civil Society and Businesses. This contribution of civil society will be facilitated through the support from the APEC Women Leaders Network (WLN). This is an informal network of women in business, government, academe and civil society from the 21 APEC member economies.
The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), which is a permanent forum established to advise Leaders and other APEC officials on issues of interests to business, also has a role to play in empowering women in our region. Specifically ABAC can play a role in ensuring that gender issues are integral to all APEC activities relating to the business and policy formulation processes.