Women Leaders’ Network Meeting

Manila, Philipines
October 2-4, 1996

The WLN proposed a list of recommendations, based o­n roundtable discussions among its participants and presented this Call to Action to Filipino President Fidel Ramos, since the Philippines was the APEC chair that year. President Ramos committed to presenting the WLN Statement and Recommendations to the APEC economic leaders.

The 1996 WLN Call to Action asked APEC leaders to:

+ Recognize and integrate gender as a cross-cutting theme in APEC;

+ Develop a partnership with the WLN to identify mechanisms to achieve this objective; and

+ Recognize the Network as a flexible, consultative forum and a strategic partner toward the achievement of the APEC vision, goals and action agenda (WLN 1996a).

The WLN also directed its recommendations to three specific APEC Working Groups: Industrial Science and Technology (IST), Human Resources Development (HRD)), and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The Network felt that the "integration of a gender perspective in APEC [would] strengthen prospects for equitable economic growth, the reduction of poverty, and the promotion of sustainable development in the Region" (WLN 1996a). The Manila Call to Action introduced a gender dimension into the Action Program of APEC and for the first time urged Canada and Malaysia, the upcoming Chairs of the 1997 and 1998 APEC Leaders' Meetings, to continue this momentum and enhance this commitment (WLN 1996a).

President Ramos' presentation of the WLN Call to Action to the other APEC Economic Leaders led to their officially recognizing the role of women in the economy. In the 1996 Leaders' Statement issued, this was the first time the need to specifically consider women had been recognized and included within a high level APEC statement (The North-south Institute 1997).

The Manila Action Plan Agenda which is part of the 1996 Leaders' Declaration in Subic, included a statement in which the Leaders recognized women's role in the economy. In the 1996 Leaders' Declaration, it states in paragraph 1 7:

"The implementation of our economic cooperation agenda is based o­n genuine partnership to which all APEC economies contribute. We direct our ministers, working in partnership with the private sector, to identify ways to encourage such participation by all APEC economies. In addition, we ask that they put special emphasis o­n the full participation of women and the youth" (APEC 1996).

This policy development also opened the door to the possibility of the WLN participating in APEC policy dialogues, joint projects and working committees in a non-official capacity in the future. Network members saw this statement as a first step towards achieving their primary goal and agreed to continue to work to ensure that gender be adopted as a cross-cutting issue throughout all of APEC's policies and programs. Network members' ultimate goal was to ensure that women's knowledge and participation would be better utilized, within the APEC agenda for more balanced and equitable development in the region (WLN 1996b).


Reasons for success

One key element of the WLN's initial success was that President Ramos strongly supported the WLN and the integration of gender into APEC policies and processes. Having an APEC Economic Leader's support was crucial in getting gender issues o­nto the APEC political agenda. It was also particularly important to gain the support of the APEC host since they determine much of the APEC agenda for the year. The case of the Philippines demonstrated how when women leaders have access to leaders within their own economies they can effectively promote gender issues and influence the political agenda at both a national and international level. The endorsement and support of APEC of the WLN's position was important as it established legitimacy for the WLN s an APEC lobby group and subsequently made it possible for the WLN to informally penetrate a number of different APEC fora.

The WLN'S initial success was also based o­n the strong commitment of its participants to uphold gender concerns within their respective member economies. This commitment was the unifying factor that enabled the participants to formulate and agree o­n a Call to Action despite the fact that they themselves represented many different sectors and held many different political agendas. The Network was also able to establish its own credibility within APEC quite rapidly due to the high caliber and status of the women leaders who participated.


Achievements and Outcomes

The primary outcome of the 1996 WLN Meeting was the drafting of the Call to Action, the presentation of these recommendations to the APEC Economic Leaders and the subsequent recognition by APEC Leaders of the need to work toward the full participation of women in APEC. After the 1996 WLN Meeting, APEC and its component working groups and communities achieved further success in terms of integrating gender perspectives in its programs and policies (WLN 1997a). A synopsis of these other achievements stemming from the 1996 WLN meeting are listed below:

1.The Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMES) Joint Ministerial Statement (Paragraph 43) called for "the full and active participation of women in the areas of SMEs" . . . in deference to their active contributions to the economies of the region (WLN 1996b).

2.The Industrial, Science and Technology Working Group produced a Guide to Women’s Science and Technology Organizations, and proposed to hold an Experts Group Meeting o­n Gender Data in Science and Technology (WLN 1997a).

3.ln the APEC Ministers' Meeting o­n Regional Science and Technology Cooperation held in Seoul, Korea in November 1996, the Ministers adopted the Seoul Declaration that seeks to:

+ Achieve the vision of creativity and mobility of scientific and technical men and women across the regional economies, through cooperation encompassing greater sharing of Science and Technology information, training and research programs, and research facilities; and

Strengthen the exchange of scientific men and women across the region and attract creative and talented young people to take up careers in science and technology.

Among the important gender-focused projects that were to be undertaken was a workshop o­n disaggregated data collection and identification and collection of models of best practices đ gender integration in the area of industrial science and technology (WLN 1996b).

4. The APEC Human Resources Development (HRD) Working Group agreed upon eight initiatives and policies that focused o­n Hrd-related gender issues (WLN 1 997a).

The Human Resources Development (HRD) Working Group in Australia in 1997 recommended the adoption of gender as an overarching theme and dimension to be applied to all eight of its priority activity areas with a Task Force established to prepare a draft report o­n its implementation (WLN 1 996b).

+ A delegation from the Women Leaders' Network attended the G77 Conference o­n Trade, Finance, and Investment held in Costa Rica in January 1997 and succeeded in having a Gender Declaration presented to the General Debate session and included in the San Jose Declaration and Plan of Action (Paragraph 470). This Gender Declaration aimed to ensure that women's networks are more active and women producers and micro-entrepreneurs benefit from the process of globalization by increasing their access to finance, markets, education and training and technology (WLN 1996b)

5. At the Working Group level:

+ The Transportation Working Group of APEC identified the need for training and development initiatives to prepare women and youth for career opportunities in the transportation sector.

+ The Tourism Working Group of APEC agreed to consider ways to promote the role and contribution made by women to the tourism industry.

+ The Environment Ministerial Meeting o­n Sustainable Development agreed to place a special emphasis o­n programs to incorporate women under its Sustainable Cities Program of Action.

+ The 1 996 WLN Meeting also influenced the creation of an Ad hoc Group o­n Gender, Science, and Technology, under the umbrella of the APEC Industrial Science and Technology Working Group.

During the 1996 WLN Meeting the participants decided to use a Focal Point system in each member economy to serve as the first point of contact to disseminate information to the various WLN members in their economies. The participants also decided that Focal Point activities could include lobbying and influencing policies and promoting and disseminating information to various leaders in their respective economies. The Focal Point was to be responsible for the identification of key women leaders in their economies and it was agreed that there would o­nly be o­ne focal point per economy. This became standard practice in future WLN meetings. Each economy was left to determine how it would select its Focal Point. Thus, the WLN did not establish a transparent process and procedure for Focal Point selection. This meant there was no mechanism by which Focal Points would be accountable to the participants of its member economies. Further development of the exact role of the Focal Points was left to subsequent Network meetings.

The 1 996 WLN meeting served to establish both a formal and informal relationship with APEC for the Network. The WLN managed to establish this relationship by the simple fact that the APEC Leaders accepted and recognized the Can to Action and responded to it by echoing its support of the WLN recommendations in their formal statement in the APEC Economic Leaders Declaration in Subic. This response by Economic Leaders served to facilitate further relations between APEC and the WLN. For the first time in history, APEC recognized that there was a need to work towards the full participation of women in APEC. The women who collaborated to form the WLN effectively planted the seed for further gender-related initiatives to take place within APEC fora and processes. They also spurred the interest of women to become involved with APEC and the Network, and instituted the idea among the APEC community that women are playing a vital role in the region's economy and therefore should be included in the planning and development of the APEC region. It was the 1996 WLN Meeting that provided the original vision of the WLN. From this point forward, Network members anticipated that WLN meeting would take place annually in the economy that is the APEC chair in a given year. CIDA also made a commitment to fund the WLN for the next four years.


Issues and Concerns

The 1 996 WLN Meeting generated some concerns and issues. o­ne was that the WLN was an elitist organization. This was partly a result of the use of the title 'Senior Leader' in the original name of the Network. Another reason for this perception was that some WLN leaders had achieved their leadership positions through either ascribed status or earned wealth. Thus, they were actually drawn from the upper classes of their economies. Although there were still women leaders advocating o­n behalf of women from all classes and sectors, from an outside perspective, collectively many of this first group of women leaders did appear to be drawn from the elite. This left the WLN with a need to address this issue and to develop a strategy to broaden their representation. The Network's name was subsequently changed to the Women Leaders' Network from APEC economies. In response to this critique of elitism, the WLN leaders defined themselves as leaders who represent a group or groups of people they serve and who can be drawn from various sectors. Although the Network in 1996 was mainly composed of women leaders in the area of science and technology, the Network subsequently encouraged multi-sectoral representation from the government, private sector, academe, and the NGO community for each member economy to guarantee the representation of a cross- section of women's needs and interests.

Another key issue in 1996 was that the WLN needed to obtain financing to ensure that key women leaders from the developing economies of APEC would be able to participate in WLN meetings and lobby activities and to ensure a broader representation at future WLN meetings.