Women throughout the Asia-Pacific have a message for APEC Ministers: women are critical to regional economic growth. Throughout meetings in Arequipa, Peru, the network has considered the negative impact of the marginalization of women as economic contributors.
The Asia-Pacific, which includes both some of the world's most and least developed nations, boasts a cross section of women leaders, determined to increase the inclusion of women in trade and export policies.
Specifically addressing Ministers responsible for trade, the Women Leaders' Network (WLN) asserts that APEC Ministers should advise their departments to provide and develop export credit plans and micro-finance for small and micro-enterprises; and that they should include relevant women and women's organizations in the planning, negotiation and implementation of trade agreements.
Similarly, they have emphasized the need to make e-technology available, affordable and sustainable for women, including indigenous women and those in rural areas.
Noting the potential of technology to multiply the opportunities available to women, the group calls on both the APEC Human Resources Development (HRD) and Telecommunications and Information (TEL) working groups to develop an action plan to advance the education of women and girls in science, technology and information and communications technology (ICT) as well as in enterprise skills, beginning at school level.
A recurring theme throughout all areas is the need to collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data on areas including trade and entrepreneurship; the number of women-led enterprises in the formal and informal economy; and micro- and small-enterprises. Vice Minister and 2008 WLN Chair, Dolores Tasayco stresses the importance of gender specific data in order to accurately determine real progress.
A complete outline of recommendations issued may be found online at: www.apecwln.org
In order to ensure adequate representation of women's interests in relevant arenas, the WLN has asked to be granted guest status at APEC working group meetings; and that one woman from each economy be appointed to APEC's Business Advisory Council (ABAC) from 2008.