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Author Topic: Who Needs Women? APEC Women Leaders Consider Their Options at the 13th APEC Women Leaders' Network M  (Read 252 times)


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Who Needs Women? APEC Women Leaders Consider Their Options at the 13th APEC Women Leaders' Network Meeting.

Arequipa, Peru, 12 May 2008

Issued by the Women Leaders' Network

In spite of market progress, businesswomen across the Asia-Pacific continue to face many of the same old problems. According to Dr. Lorna Wright of the Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada, they still encounter major challenges in accessing credit, acquiring business management skills and in coping with disproportionate family and household duties.

The Women Leaders' Network (WLN) is currently meeting in Arequipa (12 - 14 May) to discuss the challenges and opportunities of globalization and trade for women; and ultimately to make recommendations to APEC officials.

Explains Andrina Lever, President of Lever Enterprises and member of the WLN, "We're not an official part of APEC but we are listened to and no official has ever refused to attend our meetings. Like APEC, we fly no flags, we have no budget and there is no formal administration. We come together as equals."

APEC economies comprise both some of the most and least developed economies and WLN discussions draw from a range of socio-economic paradigms. For example, it is an equally significant indicator to Dr. Wright that women tend to engage in business because they have to, whereas men do business because they choose to. They lack the passion that is, for men, an advantage.

Having identified the most common impediments to women in business, the WLN has focused its efforts on what it refers to as its three pillars. That is, support for: the digital economy; guidelines for women in export; and the development of successful microenterprises.

To this end, key discussion areas include small and medium enterprises (SMEs), access to markets and the impacts of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) on women. Also receiving attention is the potential of rural women and ensuring that women across all economies can participate in digital economy and benefit from digital prosperity.

Recent studies have revealed that when women are included in business, tangible benefits are experienced both in business and in society.

Increasing female inclusion, then, is a practical way to address a multiplicity of issues at once.

In the host economy of Peru, Minister of Women and Social Development, Susana Pinilla Cisneros believes in the potential of export. "Women's participation in business is limited to the micro enterprise sector, to informal and less productive activities," she says. She also points out that only two percent of Peruvian products are directly exported, suggesting a wealth of possibilities that have yet to be exploited.

Running concurrently to meetings is the Women in Trade Exhibition of Business Women's Products. This has drawn over 100 participants and serves as a forum to make business contacts and to negotiate export agreements among women entrepreneurs.

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