APEC Women and the Economy Forum 2018 – Empowering Women to participate in the Digital Economy

APEC Women and the Economy Forum 2018 – Empowering Women to participate in the Digital Economy

Office for Women International Forums Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Friday, 07 September 2018

Statement by Australia’s Head of Delegation, Dr Sharman Stone - APEC Women and the Economy Forum 2018 – Port Moresby

Participants at the High Level Policy Dialogue - APEC Women and Economy Forum 2018

Empowering Women to participate in the Digital Economy

(delivered during the High Level Policy Dialogue, 7 September 2018)

Thank you Mr Chair, Distinguished Delegates and Heads of Delegation.

It is exciting that we have so many people here today to explore one of the great drivers of economic development: digital transformation.

Digital transformation is an exciting reality — a wave of innovation and creativity that is seeing markets transformed, productivity boosted, and consumers empowered.

The benefits of change have been remarkable. But they are not, unfortunately, shared equally.

Tackling the digital gender divide is important. It is important for all women in all our economies. 

In Australia, we have a range of targeted measures aimed at bridging the digital gender divide.

Take for example Australia’s Strategy to Boost Women’s Workforce Participation.

Under this strategy, Australia has committed to women having the IT and cyber security skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital age.

These measures encourage more Australian women to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs, integrating their digital skills and innovation to support future economic growth.

The Government is also continuing to equip Australian women with the skills they need to innovate and make the most of opportunities offered by technology and science.

A new Women in Science Ambassador will encourage girls’ participation in STEM subjects, while the 10–year Plan for Women in Science will set out a long–term strategy for increasing female involvement in STEM education and careers.

The package of measures which support this work is creating a more dynamic culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship.

And this sits alongside other, related programs such as partnering STEM professionals with school teachers, and providing digital literacy training for mature workers.

It also sits alongside our broader commitment to ensure Australia’s most vulnerable women and girls, including Indigenous women, migrant women, disabled women, women living and working in rural areas and LGBTI women, are not left behind.

There are many more examples — all of which reflect Australia’s firm commitment to bridging the digital gender divide.

But, Mr Chair, given the international dimensions of the challenge, we haven’t only been considering solutions in our own backyard.

We partnered with the United States to lead our collective APEC Women in STEM Initiative, which is building capacity to support start-ups in our economies in areas related to science, technology and innovation.

Australia is also proud to have advocated for action in the G20, helping to build momentum across the globe.

Last year Australia joined other G20 countries – some of whom join us today - to commission the OECD to conduct a stock-take of G20 members’ commitments and progress to bridge the digital gender divide.

It is an opportunity for G20 members to share best practices and look for new opportunities.

Mr Chair

This brings me to my question for us in this session – given technology is a vehicle for self-determination – what more can we be doing to develop tailored solutions to the technological problems afflicting women and girls in our economies?

The time for discussing the problems is over. We know what they are and what causes them, and to a large extent we know how to fix them.

That is why Australia is so enthusiastic about today’s discussion, which is firmly focused on finding solutions, and I’m sure together we can generate innovative ideas and make significant progress across APEC economies in empowering women to participate in the digital economy.

Thank you.