Unleashing Women Economic Power and Human Capital Development

November 20th, 2017
In photo (L-R): Chloe Cho (moderator), Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo (Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. Philippines), Dr. Shamshad Akhtar (United Nations), Teresita Sy-Coson (ASEAN BAC Philippines & SM Investments Corp.), Datuk (Dr.) Hafsah Hashim (SME Corporation) and Sirina Sisombat-Hervy (Sinouk Coffee).

In photo (L-R): Chloe Cho (moderator), Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo (Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. Philippines), Dr. Shamshad Akhtar (United Nations), Teresita Sy-Coson (ASEAN BAC Philippines & SM Investments Corp.), Datuk (Dr.) Hafsah Hashim (SME Corporation) and Sirina Sisombat-Hervy (Sinouk Coffee).

Manila: November 13, 2017 – The second forum during the second day of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 entitled “Unleashing Women Economic Power and Human Capital Development” revolved around identifying the important role of women in ASEAN, addressing gender disparity and promoting women empowerment. It also brought to light the remarkable success of women from various industries across the region.

The panelists were Teresita Sy-Coson, Council Member of the ASEAN BAC and Vice Chair of SM Investments (Philippines), Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the 10th Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific/ UNESCAP (Pakistan), Datuk (Dr.) Hafsah Hashim, Chief Executive Officer of SME Corporation (Malaysia), Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (Philippines) and Sirina Sisombat-Hervy of Sinouk Coffee (Lao). The panel was moderated by Chloe Cho, presenter and Executive Producer of Channel News Asia (Singapore).

Significant to the success of the ASEAN today is the participation of women in the business industry. Dr. Shamshad Akhtar of UNESCAP and United Nations, pointed out the exceptional position of women in the region, “Outstanding relative to the other countries is that the number of women in business is close to 60 million. This is quite impressive. Definitely high compared to the other countries,” she said.

Forum 2 panelists with ASEAN BAC Chair Joey Concepcion.

Forum 2 panelists with ASEAN BAC Chair Joey Concepcion.

On strategies employed to promote women empowerment, Datuk (Dr.) Hafsah Hashim of SME Corporation shared that there are several programs by the Malaysian government geared toward women, such as the PEAK program which stands for Performance, Empowerment, Acceleration, and Knowledge. This is  done through the Malaysian Women Innovation Academy. “The idea is to make a leadership powerhouse for innovation,” she said. In addition, a 12 months tax rebate is given to women who are trying to get back to the workforce. All these are in collaboration with the Malaysian government, in line with its goal to make 2018 the year of empowerment for women.

Although there remain existing challenges on gender inequality, ASEAN women continue to be resilient. The panel tackled the ways in addressing crises in business and life in general. “Crisis will always come, but it’s a matter of how you look at life,” said Teresita Sy-Coson of SM Investments.

The women in the panel also gave emphasis on the vital role of education in achieving gender equality. “The number one thing that women can have is education. Being educated is important in order to shatter perceived or wrong perceptions on women.” said Ma. Fe-Agudo of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc.

To bring an end to the discussion, Sirina Sisombat Hervy of Sinuok Coffee highlighted the importance of investing in human capital development, “Our focus is truly betting on our people. Our people meaning – the young and women, we are supporting them by giving them access to education while they are working with us too.” Hervy believes that true empowerment can be achieved by focusing on the development of human capital.