UN Women urges action to facilitate progress on women’s entrepreneurship at APEC 2017

Date: Friday, September 29, 2017

Press Release
For immediate release

Hue, Viet Nam — Today, in a keynote speech delivered to the “Women Entrepreneurs Forum: She Means Business” part of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri urged for action to facilitate progress on women’s entrepreneurship in the region, and globally.

Photo: UN Women/Nguyen Duc Hieu

The Forum is an activity of the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) of APEC, bringing together 700 participants from 21 APEC member economies, in order to enhance women’s integration and economic empowerment in a changing world. Its priorities are promoting gender equality for inclusive economic growth, improving the competitiveness and creativeness of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises owned by women, and narrowing the gender equality in human resources development. Established in 2011, PPWE’s goal is to advance the economic integration of women in the APEC region for the benefit of all members and to coordinate gender activities across other APEC working groups.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship and decent work. Entrepreneurship fuels the creation of decent jobs and builds wealth when businesses thrive and grow. For instance, if women started successful growth-oriented businesses at the same rate as men, it is estimated that 74 million more jobs could be created in China[1].

UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Lakshmi Puri. Photo: UN Women/Nguyen Duc Hieu

“Gender equality and women’s empowerment is — today and forever — the most promising, untapped and highest return area of investment,” said Ms. Lakshmi Puri, delivering a speech to an audience of 21 APEC member economies. “It's the right and smart investment as also an indispensable one. For poverty eradication, for inclusive, sustained and rapid economic growth, for reducing inequality and leaving no one behind and for the sustainable development of all”, she added.

APEC is comprised of diverse economies. As a regional grouping, there have been proactive efforts to bolster women’s economic empowerment. While the level of progress varies, many countries continue to face gender challenges. For examples, as much as 75 per cent or more of women are engaged in informal employment in APEC countries, which is often vulnerable with lack of access to social protection[2]. Only a handful of countries have more than 50 per cent of firms with female participation in ownership in APEC countries[3].

A UN Women report in 2012 has shown that limits on women’s participation in the workforce across the Asia-Pacific region cost the economy an estimated USD 89 billion every year.

"Systematic discrimination against women constrains their full and equal participation in the economy; but when women have income security and economic autonomy, they are in a better position to realize the range of human rights – social, political, and economic”, Ms. Lakshmi Puri stressed.

Miwa Kato, Regional Director of UN Women Asia-Pacific. Photo: UN Women/Nguyen Duc Hieu

The Forum included four sessions: (1) Women’s Economic, Financial and Social Inclusion – A Driver for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth; (2) Women Entrepreneurs in a Changing Global Market; (3) Promoting Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age and (4) Building a Vision for Women’s Economic Empowerment for Asia – Pacific and Beyond.

UN Women also led an open discussion on “Building a Vision for Women’s Economic Empowerment for Asia – Pacific and Beyond,” moderated by Ms. Elisa Fernandez, Head of UN Women Viet Nam, with participation from Ms. Miwa Kato, Regional Director of UN Women Asia-Pacific.

  1. Estimates for available countries are by the Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard Research team based on data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and United Nations Population Division for 2010–2012. For a detailed discussion of the methodology, please refer to the methodology discussion section available at www.dell.com/gwelscorecard.
  2. Estimates calculated using World Bank Gender Statistic
  3. Estimates calculated using World Bank Gender Statistics

About UN Women

UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. www.unwomen.org; http://asiapacific.unwomen.org

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Thao Hoang
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