ASEAN Economic Community senior officials commit to integrate gender mainstreaming in the region

ASEAN Economic Community senior officials commit to integrate gender mainstreaming in the region

PASAY CITY, Philippines – In its commitment to promote gender equality in the ASEAN, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), as the national focal point for the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), gathered over 140 delegates from various sectoral bodies of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) from the 10 Member States to learn more about gender mainstreaming in economic development.

The Senior Officials Conference on Gender Mainstreaming in the AEC Sectoral Bodies held on Dec 10-12, 2018 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza aimed to showcase good examples of integrating women and gender concerns in the economy.

AEC delegates were oriented on basic GAD concepts, gender mainstreaming processes and tools, and the importance of gender statistics and sex-disaggregated data in gender mainstreaming.

The Conference also featured global and ASEAN initiatives on women and trade, the digital economy, and notable practices of mainstreaming gender in specific sectors such as agriculture and transportation. How the business coalitions support women in trade were also discussed.

During the closing ceremonies of the Senior Officials Conference on Gender Mainstreaming in the AEC Sectoral Bodies on December 12 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila, representatives from 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS) and various sectoral bodies of the AEC mapped their proposed actions and strategies in bridging the identified gender disparities in economic development in the region.

For the Trade and Investment Cluster, capacity building on gender mainstreaming and the use of gender mainstreaming tools will address the cluster’s lack of awareness on gender issues. The cluster likewise plans to include gender mainstreaming agenda in all action plans of the sectoral bodies and to later disseminate and advocate the conference outcomes across the sector. 

For the Monitoring and Evaluation, and Statistics Cluster, developing clear guidelines on gender mainstreaming in the AEC is the way to go to ensure that women will become agents and beneficiaries of economic development.

For the Digital Economy Cluster, knowledge sharing has been identified as one the strategies to address culture differentiation since lack of prioritization and appreciation on gender concerns remains to be a challenge for the cluster.

For the Agriculture and Forestry, Competition and Consumer Protection, and For Energy and Minerals and Transport Sector Clusters, sex-disaggregation of data will be included in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of their programs, activities and projects. These clusters are keen on coming up with harmonized gathering methods to better analyse the differential impacts of their sectors to both women and men.

For Science and Technology Cluster, profiling or mapping women entrepreneurs shall be undertaken very soon to boost women’s participation in the economy. The cluster shall likewise capacitate its personnel on gender mainstreaming to fully understand the necessity of gender indicators for the inclusion of gender dimension in policies for the development and application in Science and Technology.

Involving male advocates  to support women’s concerns is one of the key strategies of the Tourism Cluster. The cluster considers adopting the United Nation’s HeForSHe campaign to break the prevailing male mindset that rejects gender equality in the tourism sector.

Gender equality boosts economy

Gender inequality has tangible impacts on the economy. While the economy of Southeast Asia is growing, there are accountable losses in the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the AMS due to economic gender gaps.

According to McKinsey Global Institute report, ASEAN Member States may see a significant growth in the GDP – about 4.5 trillion o year or 12% by 2025 should women fully participate in the economic activities of their respective countries.

In her presentation, Ms. Kristine Romano, managing partner of McKinsey and Company, said that the government and the private sector of each AMS should work hand-in-hand to prioritize and address the economic gender issues which are the women’s labour-force participation, business leadership, access to digital technology and societal attitudes enforcing gender stereotypes.

Romano added that it’s high time for the government to introduce equal remuneration laws, expand family friendly leave options, including gender-balanced parental leave, encourage digital access for women without mobile phones, and invest in shifting attitudes about the role of women in society and work.

The three-day conference was organized by PCW as the Philippine focal point of the ACW, in partnership with ASEAN-USAID IGNITE (Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through Innovation, Trade and E-Commerce) Project and the Australian Project Investing in Women (Philippines). It served as a venue to discuss internationally recognized women’s issues that are relevant to the mandates of AEC sectoral bodies.

This initiative is part of the three-part series of conferences to support the development and implementation of gender mainstreaming initiatives across all sectoral bodies in the three ASEAN pillars. It is part of the ACW’s Work Plan for 2016-2022.