APEC Nations adopt San Francisco Declaration

  • Hekia Parata
Women's Affairs

New Zealand is comparatively well advanced in helping women become fully engaged in the economy, the Minister of Women's Affairs, Hekia Parata, told the APEC Women and the Economy Summit in San Francisco.

"But there is always more to do. Our Government is committed to growth and we recognise the contribution that women can make to that."

Ms Parata was the final speaker in a high policy discussion on women and the economy, chaired by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on the final day of the Summit.

"This Summit shows all our economies what can be achieved when women are provided with the tools and the access they need to succeed," Ms Parata said.

"In New Zealand we have been working hard to get more women into leadership roles and increase women's participation in the economy.

"A recent report from Investment Bank Goldman Sachs says we could increase our GDP by ten percent by increasing women's participation in the economy. The report also recommended a number of ways the gender gap could be reduced many of which our Government is already undertaking.

"We are also investing more in education, health, and infrastructure which will benefit women.

"In terms of getting more women into leadership roles, we have had some recent success. The NZX are proposing new rules that will require all publicly listed companies to declare how many women they have in senior roles, while the New Zealand Institute of Directors has established a new mentoring scheme which aims to help women develop connections and skills that will allow them to achieve board positions.

"But we are not complacent. We always know there is more we can do to build a brighter future for New Zealand.’’

The three day Summit concluded with the adopting of the San Francisco Declaration, a commitment by all 21 APEC nations that they will take actions to realise the full potential of women, integrate them more fully into APEC economies, harness their talents, remove barriers that restrict women's full economic participation and maximise their contributions towards economic growth.

This will be done by helping women get access to capital and markets, and increasing the capability and number of women in leadership roles.

The declaration will be presented to the APEC leaders at their conference in Hawaii in November.

During the conference Ms Parata also met with the USA's Ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer and Under-Secretary-General and Executive General, UN Women, Michelle Bachelet.

"Both were very positive about the progress we are making in New Zealand, and are keen to continue working with us to support Pacific women improve their level of representation in their Governments," said Ms Parata.

"The recurring theme of the Summit was that a stable economy focused on growth was the best possible environment for women to realise their economic potential. It was good to see that the approach our Government is taking to increasing the participation of women in the economy is the right one."

Ms Parata also met with Canadian Minister, Rona Ambrose, and Tatiana Valovaya, the Director of the Department of International Cooperation for the Russian Government and Head Delegation for Russia.

"It was very helpful to share experiences and best practice.  The work we are doing to get women on boards in New Zealand was of great interest to the Summit.  Similarly, Canada's success in getting women owned businesses into global supply chains offers some real possibilities for New Zealand women.  I will be meeting with a Canadian representative in the next month to advance this possibility.

"Compared to many of the APEC economies New Zealand women are doing very well. At 10.6 per cent the gender pay gap is the lowest it has ever been. But there is always more that can be done and while Government can play its part businesses must take the lead.

"One of the most impressive statistics of the Summit was that the potential of harnessing women’s potential is bigger than the combined effect of the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. 

"We need to work together to find ways to increase women's participation so we don't miss out on the economic benefits greater diversity brings.

"As Secretary Clinton said: “when we liberate the economic potential of women we lift the performance of the economies of our communities and our nations.

"Our Government is completely committed to lifting the performance of our economy and the contribution that women can make to that," Ms Parata said.