Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Networking Breakfast of Ambassador for Women and Girls with the Philippine Coalition for Women Empowerment Board of Directors

Networking Breakfast of Ambassador for Women and Girls, The Honourable Dr Sharman Stone,
with the Philippine Coalition for Women Empowerment Board of Directors
Opening Address by Ambassador Steven J. Robinson AO
22 October 2019, The Peninsula Hotel



­   The Honorable Dr Sharman Stone

o   Ms Maria Aurora “Boots” Garcia, Chairperson, PHILWEN and co-Chairperson, Philippine Business Coalition for Women’s Empowerment (PBCWE)

o  Ms Julia Andrea Abad, Executive Director, PBCWE

o   Ms Nina Aguas, Executive Chairperson, Inlife

o   Other Inlife Executive

o   Other PBCWE member companies

      - Magsaysay Group

      - SGV & Co

      - Accenture

o   Partners from Investing in Women

  • Good morning and welcome to this morning’s activity with our esteemed Ambassador for Women and Girls Dr Sharman Stone.
  • It is indeed a pleasure for me to be in the presence of a group committed to pursuing workplace gender equality. The visit of Dr Sharman Stone, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, is a clear statement of Australia’s unwavering support in advocating gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. 
  • Back home in Australia, we are also confronted with issues affecting gender equality in the workplace. Many Australian organisations are grappling with these issues, including my own, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In 2015, we launched a formal review into why career progression for female employees was not equal to men. At that time, nearly 57 per cent of the department's employees were female but fewer than 34 per cent of senior executive positions and only 27 per cent of heads of mission were women.
  • We found that women were applying for senior leadership roles at proportionally lower rates than men, despite performance data showing that women were performing as well as, or better than, men at all levels across the Department. In response, a strategy to increase gender equality across the workforce was developed. This included clear, ambitious but achievable targets for increasing the number of women in senior roles.
  • I am very pleased to note that, as at 31 August 2019, women were serving in 40 per cent of Senior Executive positions at home and abroad and 40 per cent of ambassadors overseas are women, which is up from 27 per cent in 2012.
  • This experience shows that analysis, strategy, commitment to implementation and clear targets to improve workplace gender equality really do work.
  • The Philippines’ success as a middle-income country depends on harnessing all of its productive assets. The economy continues to grow, and this requires more employees with the right skills. Gender gaps and discrimination in the workforce, and persistent social norms that limit women’s opportunities, are a significant constraint to potential economic growth.
  • Unfortunately, despite your proud record on gender equality, the female labour force participation rate here in the Philippines is falling and is the lowest in ASEAN. I was particularly interested in the paper released by the National Economic and Development Authority a few weeks ago, recognising that this is problematic and calling for solutions. 
  • I understand that the Business Coalition that was established through the Investing in Women Initiative is advocating for practices toward workplace gender equality among its member firms.  I look forward to hearing more about this in this morning’s activity.


Welcome and mabuhay!