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Ministers: Promoting Women And Girls To STEM Field Is Urgent Task

APEC ministers in charge of women’s economic participation are empowering women in the region by promoting full and equal access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics field, considering the growing demand for high-skilled workforce in these critical areas.

“It is essential to address the obstacles that women still face in achieving economic empowerment, including social norms and practices that place them at a disadvantage or in subordinate positions, or the use motherhood as an excuse for exclusion or demand that they set aside their economic expectations to fulfill caregiving responsibilities,” said Angela Teresa Hernandez Cajo, Peru’s Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations.

Despite the progress made in recent years and the increased prominence of women in political, economic, social and cultural life, Minister Hernandez stressed that inequalities persist in each of the APEC economies.

During their high-level policy dialogue in Arequipa, ministers identified policy actions to attract more women and girls to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, recognizing that STEM has become fundamental drivers of innovation and development.

“Our region cannot remain indifferent to the major global technological challenges we face, as well as to a constantly changing world of work. This task is urgent,” Minister Hernandez said, highlighting the importance for member economies to explore and develop innovative, sustainable and effective strategies to increase the participation of women in STEM education and careers.

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Ministers shared their views in tackling the complex challenges of women and girls’ participation in the STEM field, including by addressing entrenched social practices that still keep women out of public and economic spaces, confining them to professions, spaces and tasks associated with a female stereotype.

“We need to create synergies, both within and outside APEC, that promote the effective participation of women in STEM, providing them with access to information technologies and learning opportunities in digital competencies and skills,” said Minister Hernandez.

“This will strengthen women's comprehensive personal growth, their economic empowerment, and their position in decision-making,” she added.

Delivering her remarks at the dialogue, Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, shared that women’s participation in STEM fields in APEC has remained below 35 percent for almost two decades with significant data gaps.

“These data deficiencies hinder our ability to accurately assess the landscape, identify barriers, and opportunities,” Dr Sta Maria added. “We need comprehensive data to formulate strategies that meaningfully address women's engagement and advancement in STEM disciplines.”

“Building upon the recommendations, recognizing the progress made and the challenges to the advancement of women and girls’ participation in STEM fields, we must continue to work together in APEC, encourage increased cross-fora collaboration, and forge robust partnerships and cooperation between APEC and other stakeholders, including ABAC and other regional and international organizations,” Dr Sta Maria said.

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