Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the importance of empowering women to advance inclusive growth across the Asia-Pacific in remarks to economic development and gender officials and private sector representatives convened in Manila to move the region towards these objectives.


President Aquino’s remarks opened the APEC Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy on Thursday, setting the tone for the proceedings to flesh out new policies for boosting women’s participation in APEC member economies—part of a cluster of APEC Women and the Economy fora meetings here this week to put words into action.


“Our goal is to have an inclusive economy,” President Aquino explained. “We are here to express our collective belief that harnessing the talents and potential of all women can bring about inclusive progress sooner rather than later.”


President Aquino pointed to examples of the significant role women have played in the Philippines’ economic and social development, particularly as drivers of entrepreneurship that has underpinned the archipelago’s robust growth in recent years.


“According to the Department of Trade and Industry, 54 percent of all registered trade names are owned by women,” President Aquino noted. “The Asian Institute of Management also conducted a survey that revealed that about 63 per cent of managers and owners of businesses are women. One major sector they are involved in are micro, small, and medium enterprises, which accounts for 63.7 per cent of our total employment."


President Aquino described steps being taken in the Philippines to lower gender barriers, with progress reflected in its position as Asia’s leader in closing the gender gap, according to a World Economic Forum index. He further called upon governments and businesses in the Asia-Pacific to deepen collaboration to institute policies that enable women to take advantage of new economic opportunities and improve communities as the region becomes more integrated.


“Make no mistake: Our performance in this index will not stop us from pursuing even more progress,” President Aquino exhorted. “Women still face a number of pressing issues and the issue of gender equality calls for continuous reflection and corresponding action. For this reason, we must always approach our jobs, and even our smallest interactions with people, with the empathy, consideration and respect necessary to create a truly inclusive society."


“The Philippines will remain your partner in expanding opportunities for women, and I am hopeful that your discussions today will continue to move us closer to a world where no one is left behind,” President Aquino concluded.


Policy solutions put forward by officials and the private sector will be considered by Economic Development and Gender Ministers and senior representatives from business and civil society during the APEC High Level Dialogue on Women and the Economy in Manila on Friday to set the region’s agenda for action.

# # #


For more:


Findings from a new dashboard measuring the progress of women’s participation in APEC member economies are detailed here.


A newly launched tool to facilitate the adoption of gender balanced health policies and improve social mobility in the region is spotlighted here.


Learn how women are leading the way in disaster risk reduction in the vulnerable Asia-Pacific at this link and what good practices APEC members are advancing to support this effort here.


For further details, or to arrange possible media interviews, please contact:


David Hendrickson +65 9137 3886 at

Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at


More on APEC meetings, events, projects and publications can be found on You can also follow APEC on Twitter and join us on Facebook and LinkedIn.