Trade and sectoral officials from the 21 APEC members wrapped up their first cluster of meetings for 2019 today, during which they set the agenda for economic cooperation for the rest of the year. The economic empowerment of women will figure prominently in the agenda for APEC 2019, so it is fitting that the last legs of the senior officials meeting were conducted on a day when womanhood is celebrated and commitments to women’s rights are reinforced worldwide.
“As you all know, women’s economic participation and inclusive growth is a core priority for Chile this year,” said Mathias Francke, Chair of the Senior Officials’ Meeting, addressing his fellow APEC economy representatives on International Women’s Day. “It is the first time in APEC’s 30 years history, that Women—as a topic—has been prioritized at the highest level.”
For decades, APEC has recognized the critical contribution that women play in achieving rapid and sustainable economic development in the region. The first Women’s Ministerial Meeting was held in 1998 and the Policy Partnership for Women in the Economy, which injects all APEC initiatives with a gender-balance perspective, was created in 2011.
“This year, Chile hopes to inject momentum and some concrete deliverables into our collective good will,” he added.
According to Carolina Cuevas, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy, the initiative enjoys top priority.
“It is encouraging to see that all economies are making strong efforts to advance women’s economic empowerment and inclusion,” she said, addressing Senior Officials. “I am now more convinced than ever that APEC’s work is fundamental to advance on gender equality, I think that as a collective force, we will be even more capable to bridge the gaps that we still face.”
“One of our core objectives is for women to reach economic autonomy and empowerment, which would give them freedom of decision and in some cases let them break poverty and violence cycles,” added Cuevas, who is Undersecretary of Women and Gender Equality of Chile.
“The world no longer wants us to merely talk about women and gender equality, it demands concrete actions that can lead to cultural changes,” she said. “The world is expecting and demanding balance for a better society. We need to start working harder and faster,” she concluded.
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