Women Leaders’ Network

Women Leaders’ Network (WLN) was establish in 1996 with a goal to involve and enhance women’s participation in all areas -as an active partner- in promoting investment, trade and cooperation activities on the basis of gender equality, thus contributing to the sustainable growth and human resource development in the region.

WLN has its members in 21 APEC economies which voluntarily participated in WLN and annually rotate to chair WLN within o­ne year and host the WLN meeting. To date, there have been 8 WLN meetings as follows: The Philippines (1996), Canada (1997), Malaysia (1998), New Zealand (1999), Brunei Darussalam (2000), the Republic of China (2001), Mexico (2002) and Thailand (2003).


WLN has 3 main objectives which are enhancement of better understanding of gender issues within the APEC framework; encouragement and support for initiatives of all APEC economies in order to increase women’s participation in the APEC process; Widening perspectives o­n gender issues related to techno-economic cooperation and integrating gender considerations into APEC-related policies, programs, projects and activities. Arising from these common objectives, the annual WLN meetings focus in promoting women leaders’ role in assisting women and women entrepreneurs in economic development and in mainstreaming gender issues in the APEC framework in the context of internationally economic integration of all APEC economies.


The annual WLN meeting is often held before the APEC SMEs Ministerial Meetings. Its outcomes are the Statement and Recommendations which are eventually sent to Leaders, Ministers and Senior Officials in APEC economies to call for their full support and further favorable conditions for economic activities done by women in the region and full implementation of the Framework for Integration of Women in APEC with the aim to achieve the overall goal of APEC for equal and sustainable development.


With Vietnam’s participation in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), in 1998, the Vietnam Women’s Union firstly attended the 3rd WLN held in Malaysia and officially joined WLN. Acting as WLN’s focal point in Vietnam, almost every year, VWU sends Vietnamese women delegation including women representatives from Women’s Union at all levels and exemplary and potential women entrepreneurs headed by a high-ranking leader of VWU to WLN meeting. The Vietnamese delegation’s pro-active and enthusiastic participation in all meeting’s activities as participants, speakers, panelists and member of WLN Steering Committee, are always appreciated by meeting organizers and participants.


In 2003, the 9-member Vietnamese women delegation headed by Mme. Ha Thi Khiet, President of VWU attendedthe 8th WLN held in Chiengmai, Thailand from 29 July – 3rd August, 2003. This meeting was co-hosted by the Office of Women’s Affairs and Family Development, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Association with the theme “Women Make a World of Difference: Partnerships for Gender and Development”.


The 8th WLN Meeting is among many women entrepreneurship related activities and o­ne again emphasizes WLN’s objectives and commitment in assisting and promoting women entrepreneurs. This meetinghas sent very clear messages to Leaders, Ministers and Senior Officers ofAPEC economies. Particularly, in the area of SMEs development, the meeting has brought the 4 following specific recommendations to SME Ministers’ attention:

  • Promote fair and equitable access to financial services, particularly for women led micro and small enterprise;
  • Support and provide incentives for comprehensive programs that empower women led micro-enterprises;
  • Facilitate the collection and dissemination of more extensive data o­n women’s contribution to the informal sector;
  • Grant WLN guest status in the Micro-enterprise Subgroup of the SME Working Group

With practical outcomes achieved from each meeting, WLN Meetings have proven the importance and influence role towards enterprise development and gender promotion related policies in APEC mechanism.


WLN is a good channel for VWU and Vietnamese women entrepreneurs to integrate into the region to share and learn experience and build up international partnership and to make a significant contribution to the development and prosperity of APEC, including Vietnam.