The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs of Viet Nam, together with the ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment Project (ACTI) hosted the Launching Workshop of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurship Network (AWEN) with the participation of the members of AWEN and ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) yesterday in Ha Noi.
“I highly appreciate the efforts of the ASEAN Committee on Women and the ASEAN Secretariat as well as the initiatives of Viet Nam in the development of AWEN”, said H.E. Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, Minister for Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs of Viet Nam. Addressing the start of a two-day Launching Workshop, she said that “the Network with members including women entrepreneurs would contribute significantly to the promotion of the commercial and economic activities within the region and between ASEAN and other partners in order to promote gender equality and empowerment of women.”
H.E. Alicia dela Rosa-Bala, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community said that “the establishment of AWEN marks ASEAN’s collective initiative to scale up women entrepreneurship in the region and to improve market access and allow female entrepreneurship to flourish in our region. Women entrepreneurs are one of the key players and instrumental in the ASEAN Community building by 2015, and are also expected to benefit from ASEAN’s economic markets and business opportunities.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. David B. Shear, highlighted the importance that U.S. places on women’s empowerment and gender equality. “The U.S. Government supports activities to ensure women’s voices are represented, their needs addressed, and their leadership potential fostered,” he said. “We will continue to seek ways to reduce regulatory barriers and expand legal awareness for women, improve women’s access to social, medical, educational and economic opportunities, and increase women’s participation in policy dialogues,” Ambassador Shear added.
Initiated and coordinated by Viet Nam, the establishment of AWEN is an activity planned in the ACW Work Plan 2011-2015 and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2011-2015. In accordance with the Terms of Reference of AWEN, the Coordinator is rotated amongst ASEAN Member States with Viet Nam as the Coordinator for the first two-year term. Madame Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, Chairwoman of the Viet Nam’s Women Entrepreneur Council is now the Chair of AWEN for 2014-2015.
AWEN is a network of business women in the region, operating to exchange experience, develop and propose initiatives to promote economic and trade activities in order to enhance gender equality, empower and strengthen entrepreneurship skills for women in ASEAN Community; create favorable environment for female-headed enterprises; and raise awareness and support for women entrepreneurship in the region.
At the Launching Workshop of AWEN, participants deliberated on the AWEN’s medium-term priority areas and joint actions for 2014-2020, and AWEN’s partnerships. Knowledge and experiences were also shared by representatives of MasterCard, Motorola, Google, and Procter and Gamble on the issues of business alliance and connectivity in a borderless world, business talent and leadership, business development and management in a digital world.
The launching was also attended by the Vice Minister of Trade and Industry of Viet Nam, leader of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, leaders from the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Women Union of Viet Nam, Chair of the ACW, ACTI representative, ASEAN partners, representatives of SMEs in Viet Nam; international organisations and multinational corporations. The launch event was supported by ACTI which is a joint project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. State Department and ASEAN.