Women Leaders’ Network Meeting: Ottawa - Hull, Canada - September 13-16, 1997
This document states that: "Investment in women's human resources and their enterprises will benefit APEC economies and will strengthen prospects for equitable economic growth, the reduction of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development in the region (WLN 1997a). The 1997 WLN Statement and Recommendations also applauded APEC for taking steps to implement its commitment to "put special emphasis on the full participation of women and youth" in the implementation of its economic and technical cooperation agenda (WLN 1997a).
The WLN 1997 Statement and Recommendations built upon the Manila Call to Action, and urged APEC Leaders to take actions to:
+ Recognize gender as a cross-cutting priority in all APEC fora and to integrate a gender perspective at all levels APEC work;
+ Approve the recommendations of APEC Senior Officials to convene a Ministerial Meeting in the Republic of the Philippines in 1998, bringing together Ministers whose responsibilities cut across women's issues in order to address women's concerns more effectively; and
+ Ensure the full participation of women through equitable representation at all levels of APEC (including such APEC-appointed bodies as ABAC) and all APEC activities (Lever 2000 and WLN 1997b). The target of at least 30% participation of women by the year 2000 was recommended (WLN 1997b).
The WLN 1997 Meeting also made the following sector specific recommendations:
Access to Markets
+ To raise the profile of women entrepreneurs
+ To have at least one woman per economy on ABAC
+ Women ABAC representatives should comprise an APEC Advisory Business Council of Women (ABAC-AABCW)
Access to Technology
+ To use a broader definition of technology than just information technology and for telecommunications to include indigenous knowledge
+ Use technology-related education and training to create virtual environments
Access to Human Resources
+ To institute specific training programs
+ To identify and disseminate best practices in human resource development
+ To recognize and reward corporations adopting equality ethics and to publicize best practices
Access to Finance
+ To adopt legislation removing impediments to women's access to finance
+ To encourage banks to evaluate women entrepreneurs' projects on objective criteria
+ For audits of bank practices to assess approval rates on gender basis
Access to lnformation
+ To ensure the APEC Network of Networks has specific information and access for women business entrepreneurs
+ To initiate and support the coaching of women in the use of information technologies
+ To ensure cost-efficient Internet access (WLN 1997b)
In general, the 1997 WLN recommendations urged SME Ministers to call upon the WLN, along with national and regional women's business associations, as a resource with relevant gender and business expertise.
Achievements and Outcomes
The 1997 WLN Meeting achieved several key things. Firstly, the WLN obtained an official invitation to present their recommendations directly to the SME Ministers at the 1997 APEC SME Ministerial Meeting in
The larger and longer-term outcome of the 1997 WLN meeting was that the recommendations from this meeting were used by the WLN to lobby APEC Leaders and directly contributed to their decision to hold the first Ministerial Meeting on Women in
This was achieved by joint public/private sector lobbying by senior women in
The 1997 WLN Meeting built and capitalized on the successes of the 1996 WLN Meeting in
Issues and Concerns
The 1997 WLN Meeting raised several issues and concerns. one of the most pressing issues was the sustainability of the WLN, since it was being funded primarily by CIDA. To facilitate its future sustainability, in 1997 the WLN decided that it would maintain the Network in its present form, as an informal network of influential women leaders who would continue to lobby APEC on specific gender issues to fulfill the mandate outlined in the Manila Call to Action and to serve as a parallel, flexible, outside pressure group. Network participants suggested that one way to maintain the Network was to establish a permanent WLN website. By the end of 1997, there were three active WLN websites and five organizations had indicated interest in hosting and managing a WLN website.
The 1997 WLN Meeting participants also discussed the possibility of the WLN seeking incorporation as a formal advisory body to specific APEC structures such as the SME Policy Level Group or to develop an APEC Women's Business Committee, and of establishing a permanent WLN Secretariat in an APEC economy to support the development of the Network and its objectives. Both these proposals would have forced the WLN to obtain on-going financing and to build consensus on who would be responsible formaintaining it (WLN 1997b).
It was not possible to achieve this consensus by the end of the 1997 WLN Meeting.
Although one of the concerns was that the 1997 meeting focused mainly on the development of women-owned SMEs, the role of civil society was one of the cross-cutting themes of the Meeting and was considered in all workshops. There were in fact three co-chairs of the Meeting, one of whom was a civil society representative. Many of the workshop speakers were drawn from civil society, as was the chair of the session on "Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Equity". Despite the central economic and SME focus of this meeting, there was also representation from civil society groups that advocated on behalf of domestic workers.
However, the recommendations made no mention of the Network explicitly working and lobbying for change in trade practices of member economies that exploit women workers.
Despite the fact that there was a session held on "Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Equity" during the 1997 WLN Meeting, there was no mention in the recommendations of such related concerns, which leaves the impression that the WLN is more focused on trade liberalization than other areas. By focusing so strongly on women-owned SMEs, the WLN gave its critics the impression that it was supporting trade liberalization without maintaining equal pressure on ethical business practices that directly affect women. This is important since the primary reason for the existence of the WLN is to work towards ensuring that APEC countries develop and enforce policies, regulations and guidelines that support gender concerns, perspectives, and equity.
Although the 1997 WLN Meeting facilitated networking opportunities between sectors, the 1997 WLN Statement and Recommendations themselves do not contain any mention of the possibility of the WLN and APEC working towards the fostering of alliances between women at all levels, such as professional women with women at the grassroots. Such alliances can serve as an exchange of skills, knowledge, and access to the various institutions including the formal institutions of government and strong grassroots women's organizations.