MANILA, 31 August 2017 – The ASEAN Women’s Business Conference concluded today in Manila, the Philippines. This commemorative activity for ASEAN’s 50th anniversary is in line with the Philippines’ priority as this year’s Chair of ASEAN to showcase the multi-sectoral high-level discussions aimed at promoting economic empowerment for women.

Policy makers, women business leaders and entrepreneurs across ASEAN, international organisations, and participants from academia, youth, and private sector representatives attended the conference. A trade exhibition of products of women entrepreneurs from across the region was also held the entire week at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, highlighted in his message that ASEAN is  at the forefront of translating high level political commitment for women to concrete actions. Other eminent guests and speakers emphasised how gender mainstreaming in the ASEAN Economic Community pillar could be achieved through strategic partnerships between the private sector, women entrepreneurs and governments.

Aiming towards a stronger, more inclusive and integrated Community, the conference concurred that gender equality and economic growth are indeed imperative for ASEAN. This would require more women to not only participate in the economic activities, but also to benefit from fair and inclusive labour and employment policies as well as to climb the ladder of business leadership positions. Concerted efforts are needed to create an ecosystem that is favorable for women economic empowerment.

Prior to the ASEAN Women’s Business Conference, several events promoting women economic empowerment were convened in Manila such as UNAPCICT ESCAP Women and ICT Frontier Initiative (WIFI) ASEAN Sub-Regional Launch, Philippine-Australia Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment: The Next Driver of ASEAN’s Success, and US-ACTI Forum on Mainstreaming ASEAN Women in Trade of Goods and Services toward ASEAN Economic Community 2025.

The series of events were jointly organised by the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry; Philippine Commission on Women; Department of Information and Communication Technology; and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network. They were supported by ASEAN dialogue and development partners, such as the United States, Australia and the UN ESCAP.