Closing gender gap in economic participation to boost Asia-Pacific GDP

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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) can boost its gross domestic product (GDP) by closing the gender gap in economic participation as its economies continue to evolve, according to the APEC bulletin.

“Women’s economic empowerment is central to our mandate in APEC. Not valuing the participation and contribution of women costs economies billions in lost revenue,” Chantelle Stratford PSM, chair of the APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy, said.

Citing an earlier study, Stratford said closing the global participation gap alone will deliver USD28 trillion in GDP annually, which equates to USD17 trillion in the Asia-Pacific.

“We are leaving USD46 billion on the table every day in lost productivity,” she said.

”If women are not at the center of our thinking in APEC –whether we are considering matters of trade policy, skills frameworks, new technologies, structural and institutional reform, the green transition, artificial intelligence, disaster recovery etc. –then we are choosing bad policy and even worse economics,” she added.  

Stratford said APEC must leverage its influential platform to set ambitious targets and foster collaborative efforts among its member economies.

“By prioritizing gender-responsive legislation, supporting women-led businesses, and advocating for equitable economic policies, APEC can create a ripple effect that will enhance the economic and social well-being of women throughout the region,” she said. 

Stratford further said that with an agenda firmly rooted in economic inclusivity, APEC has the opportunity –and the responsibility– to reshape the economic landscape for the 1.5 billion women and girls within its member economies.

She said the integration of gender equality measures into all aspects of economic policy and decision-making will be key to achieving sustainable and inclusive growth.

“The time is ripe for APEC to not only continue its advocacy but also amplify its efforts, ensuring that the future is equitable for all, especially for the women and girls who are the backbone of our economies,” she added.    

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