With women still facing gender bias in the workplace across the board, the ability for nations of the world to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Goals is hindered. Studies have shown that by empowering women in the workforce, the greater level of diverse skills and perspectives would improve the financial performance of businesses and boost growth in the global economy by $28 trillion US dollars by 2025.
“Leaders recognized in 2013 that “the economic inclusion of women is critical for business performance and economic prosperity,” and committed to promoting integration of gender considerations into APEC activities. In 2014, APEC acknowledged the need to address the unmet health needs of women across the Asia-Pacific in an effort to increase women’s economic participation. The APEC Health Working Group (HWG), Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG), and the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) thus established the multiyear APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) initiative, led by the United States, which aims to enhance women’s
economic participation by addressing issues impacting women’s health and access to health services. The APEC HWHE initiative groups the barriers to women’s economic participation into the following five categories:
• Workplace Health and Safety
• Health Access and Awareness
• Sexual and Reproductive Health
• Gender-based Violence
• Work/Life Balance.
In 2015, the initiative undertook a literature review and launched a policy toolkit for APEC government officials, policymakers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector with recommendations for improving female labor force participation through better health. While HWHE is an APEC initiative, with governments of the 21 APEC economies involved in its development, the initiative also places a large emphasis on partnership with the private sector to achieve the stated goals.”
Authors: Caroline Rubin and Ram
Tamara of Nathan Associates Inc.