Bridging worlds for inclusive innovation
The diversity of the Asia-Pacific region is one of its greatest strengths. The myriad cultures and communities of Southeast Asia and its larger neighbours, which have historically cross-pollinated each other in everything from food to ideas, support a rising and increasingly global business community. The ten nations of Asean together make up the world’s seventh-largest economy, and include some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
However, the region faces the headwinds of rising geopolitical challenges, climate change and environmental degradation, and job disruption from automation, AI and other technologies. These pose a real risk to the well-being, prosperity and progress of people, business and society. In an era of disruption and division, innovation is urgently needed to come up with new solutions for the future, whether smarter, greener urban development; more people-oriented services and businesses; or inclusive prosperity that is shared with all.
We believe that women across Asia-Pacific can provide the innovative views, perspectives and daring leadership needed, drawing on the region’s national and cultural diversity, to address today’s challenges and envision a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future. Women’s voices have historically been under-represented across the region: in the workforce, in the political sphere, and in civil society discourse. We believe women’s leadership is key not only to increasing gender equality but also to unlocking Asia’s tremendous economic and technological potential.
The first Women’s Forum Singapore will take place on 12 and 13 September 2018 at Raffles City Convention Center. It will convene more than 1,000 leaders and high-potential talents from business, government, civil society and other sectors to discuss and explore best practices and proposals to create impact. The goal is to express a clear, action-oriented vision and gender-based analysis of issues in three central pillars.
1. Shaping lives and livelihoods through innovation
Innovation and technology are reshaping and disrupting the ways we consume, communicate, travel and work today. Governments, business and society must prepare for these changes, and ensure the benefits of both digital and physical innovation – from fintech and e-commerce solutions that enable regional financial integration to climate-resilient cities and smarter urban mobility – are evenly spread. This pillar will discuss how policymakers and businesses might work together to shape the future of work, ensure citizens have the necessary tools and skill-sets to benefit from disruptive innovation, and temper technology’s potential to exacerbate social and economic divides.
2. Embracing diversity for inclusive prosperity
The rich diversity of Asean must be put in service of truly inclusive prosperity. Some countries are poised to benefit from their demographic dividend, while others must learn how to tap the power of an ageing population and respond to the changing shape of the family. Many economies must work to close the gaps between an emerging middle class, a rising 1%, and those still living in poverty. And while a growing proportion of women in Asia is entering the workforce, women may still face barriers in the form of social and cultural norms. This pillar looks at how education, workplaces, living spaces and cities might be redesigned for all these forms of diversity and more, towards greater social and community inclusion alongside greater prosperity.
3. Risk and resilience: Traditional and non-traditional security challenges
From geopolitical conflicts and terrorism to cybersecurity and financial stability, Asia must grapple with both traditional and non-traditional security challenges. Meanwhile, climate change and environmental sustainability also pose challenges for resilience, as air pollution, deforestation, ocean warming and extreme weather threaten economic growth, water and food security. This pillar examines how innovation and inclusion might temper such risks and set Asian economies on a path to thrive.