I recently returned from representing the WPO as a delegate and speaker at the 11th meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women Leaders’ Network (WLN), held in Hanoi, Viet Nam. APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region and its 21 members account for approximately 40% of the world’s population, approximately 56% of world GDP and about 48% of world trade. Because women do not have a seat at the APEC table, they have created their own organization, the WLN, to influence decision-making.
The conference was an unforgettable experience for me. At the opening ceremony each of the 21 APEC countries were represented in a fashion show dramatizing their traditional dress. After the show, delegates chose from a number of sessions, panels and workshops that addressed effective, dynamic and sustainable economic development for women entrepreneurs; social and environmental issues affecting women; and ways to promote women-owned micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (M/SME). In one of the sessions, I spoke about accelerating the growth of women’s entrepreneurship and enhancing competitiveness using the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) as a model.
Some important recommendations came out of the 11th WLN meeting, including:
- The establishment of an APEC advisory committee on women’s participation in the digital economy, where urban and rural women would be included in the master plan of enhancing information technology and the development of a database.
- The review of existing laws, regulations and practices relating to investment, business and credit to eliminate gender bias in impact and enforcement, in addition to strengthening compliance by increasing awareness of women-owned M/SMEs.
- Gender analysis training for APEC government trade officials.
- Funding and expansion support for M/SMEs owned or led by women.
- Promotion of the economic empowerment of women.
- The implementation by APEC enterprises of the International Labor Organization Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work.
That said, there is too much to include from my experience in just one blog! So, I’ll be releasing a comprehensive review of my trip, which I’ll be sure let you all know about. In the meantime, please share your experiences and revelations about doing business abroad here! And feel free to ask me questions about my trip. One important opportunity for PWO members is access to connections in many asian countries including Viet Nam, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Phillipines, Thailand and Australia. Let me know if you need a connection.