The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has maintained its efforts and support in the promotion of the status of women and has participated actively in the regional and international arena pertaining to the advancement of women. Part of the integral principles in the ASEAN community’s building process is gender equality and women’s empowerment. As such, the Joint Statement of the Second ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (AMMW) issued in October 2015 in Manila recognized that “realizing these principles requires the commitment of all ASEAN Member States (AMS), sectoral bodies under the three pillars of ASEAN, and stakeholders including civil society, academia, media and private sectors.”

In commemoration of the 50thanniversary of ASEAN in 2017, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025, the ASEAN Women’s Business Conference will provide an important opportunity to hold a strategic dialogue between ASEAN, the private sector, and dialogue partners about women in business, gender equality and economic growth which supports the ASEAN’s vision of a stronger, more inclusive, and integrated Community. The Forum also offers an opportunity for dialogue on addressing issues and concerns on women’s entrepreneurship focused on market access, finance, innovation and technology; identification of innovative business models and new ways of thinking supporting women; and determination of baseline data and studies that would help provide an overview on the current status of women in economic activities in order to help craft suitable policies, programs, and activities in ASEAN, among others.

The target number of attendees to the Plenary Meeting on 31 August 2017 is 400-600 participants comprised of top business people from the ASEAN Member States, local business representatives, Philippine government representatives and other women organizations, as well as representatives from dialogue partners and other International Organizations.

Theme and Sub-themes
ASEAN Women: Leading Change

Women Innovators in ASEAN

  • Strengthen cooperation and collaboration among women/women entrepreneurs, associations, and organizations in ASEAN and with other partners in order to further promote women’s entrepreneurship, women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), and women’s economic empowerment in the region through the advancement of concrete data and statistics that will serve as the baseline for further studies and crafting of policies, programs, activities, and projects supporting women in economic activities.

Women in Trade and Inclusive Business

  • Promotion of women entrepreneurship and women’s involvement in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by helping address the constraints in accessing markets, assets, and finance that limit women’s participation in the innovative economy and in the international markets and global value chains (GVCs).
  • Identification and sharing of best practices and case studies of innovative and inclusive business models, gender-sensitive businesses, and other new ways of thinking that integrate and support women’s participation whether as consumer, seller, supplier, distributor, and worker.

Women and Human Capital Development

  • Development of policy recommendations supporting human capital development and capacity building activities to enhance women’s representation particularly those (but not limited to) from the workforce up to the women in executive, management, and leadership positions that have managed to break the glass ceiling in traditionally male-dominated sectors and industries, and whose businesses support women MSMEs.


  • To capture the dynamics and collaboration among women/women entrepreneurs, associations, and organizations in ASEAN and with other partners in order to further promote women’s entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment in the region through the advancement of concrete data and statistics that will serve as the baseline for further studies and crafting of policies, programs, activities, and projects supporting women in economic activities.
  • To strengthen collaboration with the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on MSME (ACCMSME) which will serve as the platform to advance women’s economic empowerment in trade, leadership, and entrepreneurship, among others in the AEC pillar. Through this, the Philippines has aligned its sub-themes to the 2020 Strategic Action Plan for SME Development particularly under Goal E: Entrepreneurship and Human Capital Development.
  • To provide concrete, measurable and actionable agenda and recommendations that bring to bear new growth strategies which will be translated into a Statement supporting women’s economic empowerment

Target Outputs / Outcomes

  • A stronger mechanism has been established where AWEN under ACW will have a regular interface with SEOM under the AEC. This will help support the mainstreaming efforts in advancing women’s participation in the economic pillar of ASEAN.
  • ASEAN Member States have initiated the conduct of policy study and gathering of data and statistics to determine the current plight of women’s participation in ASEAN in terms of gender gap, per capita income, and contribution to the economy, among others.
  • The Manila Statement on ASEAN Women in Business has been adopted which recognize women’s essential contribution as innovators in the economy particularly in trade, business, and labor market. The Statement shall include the outcomes and recommendations gathered from the Stakeholders’ Consultative Workshop, AWEN Meeting, Forum on Women in Technology, ASEAN + Dialogue partners Meeting, and Plenary Meeting amongst AWEN, ACW, AMS, and ASEAN + Dialogue partners, among others.
  • ASEAN Economic Ministers and Leaders have recognized the importance of women’s economic empowerment and its impact on inclusiveness and poverty alleviation in both national


Calendar of Events

Schedule Event
9-10 March 2017 Stakeholders’ Consultative Workshop in preparation for the Philippines’ hosting of ASEAN Women’s Business Conference
15 March 2017 ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN) Meeting
15 March 2017 AWEN Steering Committee Meets the Press (Media Party)
15 March 2017 ASEAN BAC Interface (Hosted dinner by Joey Concepcion)
16-17 March 2017  S.T.E.A.M. Ahead in ASEAN: A Forum for Women and Technology
June 2017  DTI, PCW, and WomenBizPH Convergence: Filipinas Leading Change in ASEAN
(also in celebration of WomenBizPH 20th Anniversary)
28 August 2017  AWEN Meeting
29 August 2017  Philippines-Australia ASEAN Women in Business Forum
30 August 2017  Tentative event (with dialogue partners)
31 August 2017  ASEAN Women's Business Conference (Plenary Meeting)
31 August 2017  Welcome Dinner for the AWEN delegates, speakers, and VIPs
01 September 2017  Socials (Tours in cooperation with DOT and ASEAN NOC)


Chair : Usec. Nora K. Terrado
Committee on Business and Investment Promotion /
ASEAN Women Steering Committee

CBIP Secretariat : Ms. May Niña Celynne Layug
Project Manager /
Director, Foreign Trade Service Corps

DTI AWEN Secretariat : Ms. Lydia R. Guevarra
Head Secretariat /
Director, Resource Generation and Management Service

Tripartite cooperation forming the ASEAN Women Steering Committee:

  • Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
  • Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) – represented by their Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa who sits at the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and attends the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women that is held once every three years.
  • Women’s Business Council Philippines, Inc. (WomenBizPH) – represented by their Chair Pacita “Chit” U. Juan. Ms. Juan also serves as the Chair of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN), a regional network of national women entrepreneurs’ associations and women entrepreneurs in the ASEAN region working under the ACW to support the development of women’s entrepreneurship, promote women’s economic empowerment and connect the organizations of women entrepreneurs across the region. Meanwhile, WomenBizPH Board Adviser Ms. Ma. Aurora “Boots” Geotina-Garcia acts as the Co-Chair to the ASEAN Women Steering Committee.

Supported by:
DTI-BSMED, DTI-BITR, and Department of Foreign Affairs-ASEAN Desk who are members of the ASEAN Women Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee coordinates with the ASEAN NOC, as may be required.

Other International Commitments:

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy (2017)

APEC-approved Project led by the Philippines
PPWE 02 2016A: Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business


In 2015, the Philippines hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women and the Economy 2015 Fora with the theme: Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Growth which reinforced the important role of women in achieving an inclusive, balanced, and sustainable growth of an economy. This was supported by the three sub-themes: Women and Inclusive Business; Women in the International Markets and Global Value Chains; and Women and Sustainable Development.

In order to ensure that the initiatives introduced during the 2015 hosting year will be sustained and continue to build upon in the coming years, the Philippines through the Department of Trade and Industry proposed the “Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business” project. It was approved by APEC in 2016 for implementation until 2017 through a cross-fora collaboration under two working groups: Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) as the lead forum, and the Investments Expert Group (IEG). This was also aligned to last year’s APEC WEF theme: “Breaking barriers to the economic integration of women in the Global Market.”

This Project looks into the broader aspect of Inclusive Business (IB) both in theory and practice, and zooms into how women’s economic empowerment serves as vital contribution in the development, scale-up, and replication of IB models in the Asia Pacific region. It aims to provide more understanding on the importance of IB in helping narrow the chasm between the rich and the poor, alongside addressing the gender gap. It shall explore how businesses that recognize gender-based constraints reap substantial benefits, and trickle-down results up to those in the base of the pyramid (BoP).

APEC recognizes the ADB definition of IBs as "commercially viable and bankable companies whose core business model is to provide – in scale – innovative and systemic solutions for the poor and low income people." Another definition recognized last year was provided by G20 (2015) where IB is “a private sector approach to providing goods, services and livelihoods on a commercially viable basis, either a scale or scalable, to people at the base of the pyramid by making them part of the value chain of companies’ core business as suppliers, distributors or customers.”

To do this, the project will conduct a survey to compile success stories and best endeavors of APEC member economies by looking into their IBs that recognize the contribution of addressing barriers to women’s economic empowerment in attaining quality growth: one that is balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and secured. The survey aims to showcase the representative economies’ successful business models in order to define and differentiate an Inclusive Business model from other business strategies. For instance, the survey will see how an Inclusive Business model varies in high income/highly developed, middle income, and poor economies, taking into account that IBs’ target beneficiaries are those that are in the BoP.

Prior the finalization of the study, a validation workshop will be conducted on 23-25 May 2017 in Manila, Philippines, followed by a concluding workshop for the presentation of the results during the margins of APEC Women and the Economy Forum 2017 in September in Hue, Viet Nam. The final digital publication will be presented and circulated at the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) Meeting in 2017.


The study aims to present the potential benefits, enabling conditions, and policy aspirations of women in Inclusive Business (IB) models.

The Project’s overall objectives are:

  • To provide a broader perspective highlighting the relevance of IB;
  • To conduct a survey amongst the identified APEC economies in order to produce the final digital publication entitled “Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business” which will be disseminated at all relevant APEC fora and working groups prior and during the APEC Women and the Economy Forum 2017;
  • To showcase exemplary IBs gathered from the survey participants that recognize how women are vital partners and contributors in the economy; and
  • To underscore how the IBs identified are supported by the government by creating a favourable business environment.

Calendar of Events

Schedule Event Description

23-25 May 2017

Manila, Philippines

 Validation Workshop for the APEC Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business Project To present the preliminary findings and recommendations of the study.

22-26 May 2017

Hue, Vietnam 

APEC Women and the Economy Forum
- High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy (26 Sep)
- Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) Meeting (23-24 Sep)
- Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPDWE) (25 Sep)
- PPWE Management Council Meeting (26 Sep)
- Women in Transportation Forum (tbc) 
Regular APEC meeting attended by delegates from the Philippines to advance women’s economic empowerment agenda in APEC workstreams.
23 or 24 Sep 2017
Hue, Vietnam

Concluding Workshop for the APEC Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business Project
To present the final study upon completion.

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