The Forum was composed of four main meetings such as: Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPDWE), Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE), PPWE Management Council Meeting, and High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy (HLPD-WE).  These were complemented by four parallel events hosted by sponsoring economies particularly the United States, Russia, and Republic of Korea.

Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy

Representing the Philippines, Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Blesila A. Lantayona spoke at the High Level Panel on the Internationalization of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) led by women.  She shared the key Export Promotion Programmes of DTI incorporating a gender approach, policy measures supporting the Philippine SME Programs (i.e., 1.Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBE) Act of 2002 and the Go Negosyo Act), the GREAT Women Project (Gender Responsive Economic Action for the Transformation of Women Project), and some successful cases of women-exporters in the Philippines.

Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy Meeting

As the previous Chair of the PPWE, Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa provided a recap of what transpired during the APEC Women and the Economy 2015 Fora hosted and chaired by the Philippines in September 2015.

In her opening message, Ms. Verzosa congratulated Peru for identifying issues for the 2016 APEC WEF that are both timely and fitting.  In which she said, “We share Peru’s position that APEC must discuss and address issues on care economy, gender-based violence, internationalization of MSMEs, and financial and digital literacy in order to empower women and accelerate their integration in the economy.”
Ms. Verzosa specifically commended Peru for recognizing the importance of unpaid care and domestic work and the need to understand the economic costs of gender-based violence as these are core gender issues that limit women’s economic integration.

High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy

Led by Trade and Industry Asec. Lantayona as the Head of Delegation, the Philippines reconfirmed its strong support in advancing gender equality goals and women’s economic empowerment agenda in APEC.

Chaired by Peru Minister of Women Marcela Huaita, APEC Ministers and Heads of Delegations adopted the APEC Women and the Economy Statement which reflects the joint actions and efforts of APEC member economies and private sector in breaking barriers to achieve women’s full participation in the following areas:
1.Economy care systems: recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work for inclusive growth
2.Costs of gender-based violence in the context of economic development
3.Mechanisms for the internationalization of micro, small and medium enterprises led by women
4.Financial and economic literacy and inclusion for access to capital
5.Digital literacy for economic inclusion

The Philippines together with Indonesia was able to push for the insertion of a provision in the Statement that highlights the importance of the role of men and boys in the achievement and realization of gender equality.  Furthermore, the Philippine Delegation put forward the following policy recommendations as aligned in its Policy Statement:
  • Collect evidence to quantify and value women's unpaid care and domestic work as basis for policies and programs on work-life balance, support for care services, and promotion of shared parenting and household responsibilities among family members;
  • Quantify the costs of gender-based violence to convince policymakers and business owners to craft prevention and response programs to end the violence in their homes, workplaces and public spaces; 
  • Provide an enabling environment for women in MSMEs to become financially and digitally literate, to be able to grow their businesses and move up the value chain, be socially protected, and finally break the barriers of their integration into the global market; and
  • Continue gender mainstreaming in and establish concrete engagements and partnerships with other APEC working groups.
Some of the women’s economic empowerment initiatives shared by the Philippines include the DTI SME and Export Promotion programs, Partial Subsidy Scheme of PhilHealth, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Sustainable Livelihood Program, among others.  The Philippines also reported on Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Women REACH! Program for returning overseas Filipino workers, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) STAR Program, which were two public-private ventures aimed at empowering poor women economically.

Showcased numerous times during the Forum, the GREAT Women Project, is a Project of the Philippines, supported by the Global Affairs Canada, which helps women entrepreneurs to scale-up their businesses by transforming them into GREAT businesses through improved productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability as they move up and compete in the international market and global value chains.

Parallel Events

PCW Exec. Dir. Verzosa spoke at the 2016 APEC Women’s Business and Smart Technology Seminar: New Value Creation of APEC Women’s Business through Smart Technology and Leadership organized by the Republic of Korea.  She shared Philippine initiatives to advance women’s economic empowerment using information, communications and technology (ICT).

Ms. Pacita U. Juan, Chair of Women’s Business Council Philippines and ASEAN Women’s Entrepreneurship Network, also spoke at the panel discussion on the Implementation of the Women’s Entrepreneurship in APEC (WE-APEC) Network Workshop organized by the United States.

ANTHILL, a private sector partner of GREAT Women Project, was awarded with a special prize from the jury in the APEC Best Efficiency and Success Target (BEST) Award, hosted by the Russian Federation. The Award recognized the next generation of women entrepreneurs. ANTHILL, or Alternative Nest and Trading/Training Hub for Indigenous/Ingenious Little Livelihood seekers, is a social and cultural enterprise that preserves and promotes Philippine had loomed fabrics. It targets the market’s younger generation and supports sustainable livelihoods among partner weaving community enterprises.

APEC 2016 Moving Forward

One of the projects led by the Philippines and approved by APEC, the APEC Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business (IBs) will begin its implementation in the third quarter of the year. It aims to provide a fresher perspective on the relevance of Inclusive Businesses where women play a vital role as worker, supplier, distributor, or consumer of goods and services.  The project will compile success stories and best endeavours of member economies’ IBs that recognize the contribution of addressing barriers to women’s economic empowerment.  
The Philippines will also continue working on the pilot implementation of the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) Policy Toolkit which was adopted last year.  After a series of pilot testing of the toolkit, it is anticipated to be implemented in the PEZA economic zones.
The Philippines stands with APEC in expanding opportunities for women and achieving a truly inclusive economy and a society where no one – no woman— is left behind,” said Asec Lantayona, head of the Philippine delegation during the High Level Policy Dialogue.
Rest assured, the Philippines remains committed in advocating for women’s economic empowerment and women’s full participation, which strongly supports the implementation of the Magna Carta of Women or Republic Act 9710.
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