The 2013 APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy issued a statement on Sunday, concluding a four-day meeting focused on ensuring women realize their full potential as economic drivers.

 “We are working on removing obstacles that currently restrict women from realizing their full economic potential,” said Ms Linda Gumelar, Indonesian Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, who chaired the meeting that included Ministers, officials and private sector leaders.

“This can be achieved through concrete actions to implement gender-responsive policies and programs as well as by implementing laws and regulations to expand economic opportunities and leadership roles for women in APEC economies,” added Minister Linda Gumelar.

The United Nations estimates that the Asia-Pacific economy would grow by an additional $89 billion annually if women were able to achieve their full economic potential. The World Bank estimates that output per worker would increase 7-18% if female entrepreneurs and employees in the East Asia Pacific region worked in the same types of jobs, sectors and activities as men with similar level of productive resources.

However, according to the World Bank, the average female-owned and run enterprise is smaller than male-run enterprises in terms of total employees, sales and profits. In addition, these female-owned enterprises tend to be based in the informal sector or run out of their homes.

“For example, women-owned enterprises face a host of institutional constraints that limit the ability of their business to thrive,” explained Minister Linda Gumelar. 

“Our goal is reduce these obstacles through a number of priorities such as ensuring women have access to information technology and by removing legal and regulatory barriers to women’s property, asset ownership and ability to sign contracts,” said Minister Linda Gumelar.

Other priorities include incentivizing the private sector to invest in the empowerment of women in their business operations, senior management and corporate social responsibility programs as well as government programs that improve access to training for women and girls and foster flexible workplace policies.

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