Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls , Natasha Stott Despoja has announced 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.
While leading Australia's delegation to the APEC Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) in Beijing, Ms Stott Despoja said Australia's foreign policy and aid program were targeting three persistent challenges to gender equality by addressing violence against women and girls, supporting women's leadership and promoting women's economic empowerment.
"Research has shown that women face greater barriers to exporting - such as access to finance, resources and information," she said.
"Trade promotion agencies have an important role to play in addressing these barriers."
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," she said.
"We know that equality between women and men supports economic growth and reduces poverty."
Ms Stott Despoja said the International Labour Organisation estimated that the Asia-Pacific region was losing up to US$47 billion a year because of women's limited access to employment opportunities.
She said APEC was the Asia-Pacific region's pre-eminent economic forum.
Ms Stott Despoja said its 21 member economies were home to more than 2.8 billion people and included eight of Australia's top-10 trading partners.
She said more than 70 per cent of Australia's total trade in goods and services was with APEC economies, and Australia had participated in APEC WEF since its inaugural meeting in 2011.
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