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Women’s economic empowerment a priority for Australia

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Media Release

Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja AM, has today highlighted the importance of women's economic empowerment while leading Australia's delegation to the APEC Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) in Beijing.

"Australia's foreign policy and aid program are targeting three persistent challenges to gender equality by addressing violence against women and girls, supporting women's leadership and promoting women's economic empowerment," Ms Stott Despoja said.

"As part of this, I am pleased to announce that Australia will lead work over the next two years to improve the capacity of trade promotion agencies in the APEC region to support women exporters.

"Research has shown that women face greater barriers to exporting – such as access to finance, resources and information. Trade promotion agencies have an important role to play in addressing these barriers."

In her discussions with APEC counterparts, Ms Stott Despoja highlighted Australia's domestic and international efforts toward women's economic empowerment and called for concrete action against existing APEC objectives.

"Australia is keen to work with our partners in APEC to ensure that gender equality and women's economic empowerment is a priority across the breadth of APEC's work," Ms Stott Despoja said.

"We know that equality between women and men supports economic growth and reduces poverty. The International Labour Organization estimates that the Asia-Pacific region is losing up to US$47 billion annually because of women's limited access to employment opportunities. We want to help change that."

APEC is the Asia-Pacific region's pre-eminent economic forum. Its 21 member economies are home to more than 2.8 billion people and include eight of Australia's top-ten trading partners. Over 70 per cent of Australia's total trade in goods and services is with APEC economies. Australia has participated in APEC WEF since its inaugural meeting in 2011.

Last Updated: 22 May 2014
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