SIGNING FOR WOMEN REPRESENTATION IN THE ASEAN. Seated from left are: ASEAN BAC’s Gil Gonzales, ASEAN BAC Philippines chairman Joey Concepcion, WomenBiz president Rosemarie Rafael, PhilWEN chair Cristina Concepcion, ASEAN Society Chair and former Ambassador Delia Albert, and ASEAN BAC’s Josephine Romero. Witnessing the signing were (standing, from left): WomenBiz’s Atty. Lorna Kapunan, and PhilWEN’s Chit Juan and Boots Garcia.

[Manila, October 09, 2023] – Two of the biggest women business organizations in the country have taken the first steps toward ensuring that the Filipina entrepreneurs’ sector in the Philippines is robustly represented within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Women’s Business Council Philippines Inc. (WomenBiz) and Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN) sealed their official collaboration in preparation for the Philippines chairmanship of ASEAN in 2026, specifically for the representation of Filipino women in the ASEAN. The agreement was signed last October 9, 2023 in an event organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) Philippines, led by its chairman Joey Concepcion.

“We are confident that this agreement will snowball into a larger and more inclusive representation of Filipina entrepreneurs in the region,” said Concepcion. “We hope that more women’s organizations will come and join us to represent the Philippines in the ASEAN, and that they will also become mentors for MSMEs,” he said. “We hope that these organizations will help us create more activities for them,” he said, noting that many MSMEs are led by women and are doing quite well. “They can give inspiration, help them, and guide them.”

ASEAN Society Chair and former Ambassador Delia Albert noted that the collaboration is a great way to begin the country’s journey towards its 2026 ASEAN chairmanship. “Filipino women must begin to know more about the ASEAN,” she said, as this will help them become more active, productive innovative, and responsive to economic challenges. “This initiative will give a more effective voice [for women] in the regional agenda, but we have to work together and get women from all over the Philippines to participate,” she said.

Signing for WomenBiz was its president, Rosemarie Rafael, while PhilWEN was represented by its chair, Cristina Concepcion. Also present during the event were the ASEAN BAC’s Gil Gonzales and Josephine Romero, PhilWEN’s Chit Juan and Boots Garcia, and WomenBiz’s Atty. Lorna Kapunan.

“ASEAN is the buzzword all over the world, [it is] where people feel the economic growth will be greatest,” said PhilWEN’s Concepcion. WomenBiz’s Rafael agreed, adding that it is now important how the Philippines can be best represented “Collaboration, cooperation, communication, and understanding are important,” she said.

Concepcion sees the collaboration as paving the way for more activities that support women entrepreneurs. He said the Philippines can also establish the promotion of women entrepreneurs as part of the regular regional agenda, and make it part of the country’s legacy of its chairmanship as it did when it pioneered the use of external funding for its 2017 legacy project, the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network.

The collaboration of the two women’s business organizations is being implemented to prepare for the Philippines ASEAN chairmanship in 2026, and present a united private sector under the leadership of the ASEAN BAC. Among the objectives of the collaboration are advocating for policies and initiatives that promote MSME development among women in the Philippines and in ASEAN; engaging the capacity-building efforts of women-led enterprises through mentorship and training and market linkages; the creation of strategic partnerships that will benefit women entrepreneurs; collaborating on research projects and data collection to drive evidence-based policy recommendations and targeted support; and representation in ASEAN Forums to promote economic empowerment at the regional level.


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