The Coca-Cola Company was invited to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy to speak about its global 5by20 women’s economic empowerment initiative.

The event in Manila gave APEC member-economies an avenue for a dialogue and kexchange of learning and endeavors to advance gender integration, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment agenda in the Asia-Pacific region.

Atty. Adel Tamano, vice president, public affairs and communications, Coca-Cola Philippines, represented the company on the Women and Inclusive Business panel. Tamano highlighted the global 5by20 shared value initiative as a commercially viable and replicable endeavor that directly impacts women micro-entrepreneurs at the community level and across the company’s value chain.

Through the Golden Triangle Partnerships forged with the Philippine Government’s TESDA and five regional microfinance and cooperatives, Coca-Cola Philippines provides access to business skills and life training scholarships; business capital and assets; and peer mentoring support through the 5by20 Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.

The 5by20 STAR Program in the Philippines was cited by President Benigno Aquino III as the perfect example of public-private sector convergence that propels inclusive growth. President Aquino said the program effectively helps women in micro and small enterprises achieve some level of business growth and sustainability.

Congress has also passed laws that expand the horizon of opportunities for women. Most prominently, in 2011, there were revisions in the Labor Code that prohibited women from working at night.

“It comes as no surprise, then, that according to the World Economic Forum, the Philippines is the only Asian country in the top ten in terms of closing the gender gap,” said President Aquino. “But make no mistake, our performance in this index will not stop us from pursuing even more progress. Women still face a number of pressing issues, and the issue of gender equality calls for continuous reflection and corresponding action. For this reason, we must always approach our jobs, and even our smallest interactions with people, with the empathy, consideration, and respect necessary to create a truly inclusive society. Rest assured, the Philippines will remain your partner in expanding opportunities for women, and I am hopeful that your discussions today will continue to move us closer to a world where no one is left behind.”