The ASEAN Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment jointly organised by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) was held from 27 to 28 August 2018 in Singapore. It was supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore. This is the second joint collaborative project between the AICHR and ACWC, and the first project that promotes and protect the rights of women through economic empowerment.
The Forum comprised five sessions, namely, Empowering Female Employees at the Workplace; Breaking Barriers and Re-inventing Traditional Businesses; Creating New Businesses in Emerging Industries; Shaping Corporate Culture for Women Leadership Development; and Empowering Women in the Silver Economy. The Forum brought together representatives from the AICHR, ACWC, Senior Economic Officials and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network, as well as private sector and civil society representatives from ASEAN Member States, to share their experiences and exchange good practices that contribute to the greater economic participation and empowerment of women through all stages of life.
In her Opening Remarks for the Forum, President of the Republic of Singapore Madam Halimah Yacob noted that in order to tap into ASEAN’s full economic potential, ASEAN needed to do more to harness the potential of all, including women who make up half of the region’s population. President also said that in order for women to progress and contribute at work and in society, there is a need to have a shift in mindset on how women in various stages of life are treated in employment, as well as perceptions of caregiving responsibilities at home.
Speakers and participants spoke about the importance for the public, people, and private sectors to take a “life-cycle approach” in policy planning, and work together to create an inclusive ecosystem that will enable and empower women to join the work force, excel at work, and take up leadership positions. They also agreed on the need to encourage women to tap on new technologies and embrace lifelong learning, so that they are equipped and ready to ride on new trends in the marketplace including the fourth industrial revolution.
In view of the rapidly ageing population in the region, and the vulnerability of older women in society, speakers and participants also touched on the importance of equipping and empowering older women with the right tools that will enable them to gain access or return to the marketplace, so that they can be self-reliant, remain active, and are able to live meaningfully in their sunset years.
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