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Gender equity equals growth

기사승인 2013.05.16  18:41:13

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- Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity's Premier Special Session

   
▲ Freda Miriklis, BPW International President, is a keynote speaker at the upcoming jeju Forum. Photo courtesy The office of Freda Miriklis

Including women in the workforce makes good business sense.

It's time once again for the prestigious Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, May 29-31, to be held at Haevichi Hotel & Resort in Pyoseon. Under the theme of “New Waves in Asia,” this year's Forum is shaping up to be the best yet.

One of those “new waves” is the rise of women – in business, government, and elsewhere. The current era, frequently referred to as both the “Asian Century” and “Women's Century,” is already seeing the rapid ascension of each – which places Asian women in a unique position.

Korea's election of its first female president, H.E. Park Geun-hye, is a prime example. Her achievement has received extensive coverage by world media – and brought about her inclusion in Time Magazine's celebrated annual list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Other women in the Asia-Pacific region have also risen to positions of political influence throughout the years, currently including President Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand, Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia, and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Additionally, as identified by Forbes' “Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen,” a growing number of women in Asia have taken the helm of organizations both public and private. In Korea, this includes Kim Sung-joo of Sung-joo Group and MCM Holdings AG, who led President Park's election team; Romi Haan of Haan Corporation; Hyun Jeong-eun of Hyundai Group; and, Lee Mikyung of CG Entertainment / Media.

Lee Boo-jin (Hotel Shilla and Samsung Everland) and Lee Seo-hyun (Cheil Industries and Cheil Worldwide), daughters of Samsung titan Lee Kun-hee, who were recently named on the Forbes Billionaires List, are considered rising stars.

Jeju Forum, showcasing trends of the region in matters of economy and security, will launch this year's event with Special Session 1: “21st Century: 'Asian Century', 'Women's Century' – Achieving Full Economic Potential Through Gender Equality.”

The keynote speaker of this highly anticipated session is Ms. Freda Miriklis, president of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women.

Miriklis, elected president of BPW International in 2011 and a member of the organization's international executive board since 2005, is from Australia, where she is an investment adviser, Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia, Designated Trading Representative with the Australia Securities Exchange, and Master Stockbroker with the Stockbrokers' Association of Australia.

In this Special Session, Miriklis will present the economic prosperity to be gained by including women equally in the workplace, and the political and social benefits of full gender equality. She will highlight ways in which equal partnership between women and men enhances the function and profit not only of business but of the professional world as well, including public and private arenas.

Miriklis previously visited Korea as a keynote speaker of the Global CSR Conference 2011 in Seoul, sponsored by UN Global Compact and hosted by Global Compact Network Korea. CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, is an increasingly powerful trend in the global business world. Miriklis also visited Jeju at that time, in preparation for the BPW International triennial congress to be held here in 2014.

Tangential to her participation in Jeju Forum, the BPW International president will launch the “Korea in Action: YES for WEPs!” campaign, in partnership with UN Global Compact and International Organisation of Employers, and their Korean representatives, Global Compact Network Korea and Korea Employer's Federation respectively. This dynamic initiative will exhort Korean CEOs to sign a pledge in support of “Women's Empowerment Principles [WEPs]: Equality Means Business.”

The Women's Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact, were enacted in 2010 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Moon, from Korea, delivered the keynote address to Jeju Forum in 2009.

These 7 principles are: (1) Leadership which promotes gender equality; (2) Equal opportunity, inclusion, and non-discrimination; (3) Health, safety, and freedom from violence; (4) Education and training; (5) Enterprise development, supply chain, and marketing practices; (6) Community leadership and engagement; and, (7) Transparency, measuring, and reporting.

BPW International, founded in 1930, has become one of the world's most influential networks for the empowerment of women, with approximately 30,000 members in 95 countries on 5 continents. The NGO has consultative status with the United Nations, participatory status with the Council of Europe, and has made the WEPs a top organizational priority. Approximately 800 influential women from across the globe are expected to attend the 2014 BPW International congress, which will take place here on Jeju Island as hosted by BPW Korea.

The lead Special Session of Jeju Forum 2013, according to Miriklis, “will give participants a look into the future – a future in which women and men work together to create peace and prosperity throughout the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe, a future in which the women of Asia, in this 'Asian Century,' have an instrumental role to play.”


Dr. Hilty is a cultural psychologist from New York who now makes Jeju Island her home. She is a member and 2014 Congress Coordinator of BPW International.

Anne Hilty eastwest.psyche@gmail.com

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