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									   Summary of APEC Women Leaders’ Network Conference,
               Chiang Mai, July 30-August 3

Odetta Lee (Exco Member) and I have returned from the APEC Women Leaders'
Network Conference - "Women Make A World of Difference : Partnerships for Gender
and Development" in Chiangmai, Thailand which was co-hosted and co-organised by the
Federation of Business and Professional Women in Thailand along with the Office of
Women's Affairs and Family Development - Ministry of Social Development and Human
Security and the Centre for Philanthropy and Civil Society - National Institute of
Development Administration. About 450 women attended from around the region and N.
America. Also attending were BPW members Crystal Tang, Helen Cheung, Ophelia
Cheung, ExCo member Marie-Laure Liao, and future BPW member S Q Thong.

Among the many activities, Odetta and I attended the BPW ASEAN sub-regional meeting
(half-day) and I gave a report with a PowerPoint presentation on HKABPW's situation in
Hong Kong and on the CEO Roundtable. None of the other BPW had thought of such an
innovative and high profile event. And we also showed the reasoning and concept behind
the organisation of such a Roundtable. It was interesting to hear what some of the other
BPWs are doing in the region and to hear BPW International's efforts and high status at
the United Nations and at the numerous UN agencies. I believe that one way to change
the world is to make governments aware of pertinent women's issues. fyi, Dr.
Chonchanok Viravan (called "Nok"), BPW International's 1st Vice President is
representing BPW at the United Nations and is the chair of the UN and the Status of
Women Committee for BPW International. BPW International is part of “Five-O” – select
group of NGOS having UN Consultative Status. BPW International aims to make
governments aware of the situations and issues facing women in our regions and
countries. Btw, BPW International has General Consultative Status at the United Nations
and its agencies. The Laotian Women's Business Association at the invitation of BPW
Singapore attended the BPW meeting and they hope to join the BPW international
network. Vietnam is also going to set-up a BPW chapter in the near future.

In the evening, BPW Chiangmai's President hosted an evening at her estate which
comprises two monster-sized homes. It was an outdoor affaire - an evening garden party
for BPW members attending the conference resplendent with elaborate food stalls, tented
dining areas, high end jewelry and arts and crafts, and entertainment, Though the
weather decided to rain on the festivities for about 30 minutes, the grand garden party was
an example of Thai hospitality for all the BPW members attending from around the
region (members of APEC) and special guests. BPW International Vice President Nok
and I invited Sophie Leung of the Women's Commission to the festive evening which was
also attended by the deputy mayor of Singapore. We invited Mrs. Leung in order that
she might learn more about BPW on a regional and international level and learn about
some of the issues each of the countries are concentrating on - and meet some of the
major players in the region.

For the first day of the conference, which was opened by the Deputy Prime Minister of
Thailand - (he is from Chiangmai) we were delighted by the many outstanding speakers
from BPW around the region, HKWPEA (HK Women Professional and Entrepreneurs'
Assoc), Hong Kong, and from around the region and North America (Canada and the
US). Remember, APEC countries also include ASEAN countries, other Asian countries,
Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, etc.
This day included the plenary sessions and a few concurrent workshops in the
afternoon. In the evening, there was a gala evening hosted by the World Council of
Women under the patronage of the Queen of Thailand at a typical Northern Thai style of
dinner complete with cultural entertainment.

The next day of the conference had more excellent sessions: One of the plenary sessions
featured Ms. Sarmite D Builte, Chair of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Women
Entrepreneurs of Canada and also member of Parliament. Dr. Fanny Cheung spoke
from an academic view on HK's efforts to educate people on prevention of rape, the
establishment and efforts of the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Women's

Under the subject of Women's Entrepreneurship through Creative Partnerships - Senator
Mechai Viravaidhya, President of Population and Community Development Association
of Thailand showed countless examples of how Thailand's government is helping women
communities to become financially independent in the rural sectors.

Under the workshop of Women Overcoming Barriers to Make a Difference - BPW's
President from Australia Judith van Unen illustrated how she has used her building
engineering degree and runs 3 construction companies in Australia and is a cancer
survivor. Evelyn Chan, BPW Singapore President, has a degree in architecture and
runs a construction and building company in Singapore, and Madame Chen Ying is
the Vice Chair of a carpet manufacturer in China runs a factory in Thailand, Canada and
another in China.

Under the session for Bridging the Knowledge Divide Through Multiple Forms of
Communication, Dr. Nok was the moderator and the panelists included Dr Elizabeth Quat
who talked about the Webcare campaign and is president of the Internet Professional
Association of Hong Kong; Dr. Lorna Wright, Int'l MBA program, School of Business at
York University in Canada talked about internet access; Ms. Carnacion N Raralio,
Commissioner, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, Republic of the
Philippines showed how they were bringing internet access to rural Filipino women.

Under Balancing Family Life and Career Through Partnerships, Masako Hiramatsu,
President of BPW Japan among other panelists described how until in the last
decade Japanese law did not allow women to work in the evening and out of several
countries polled in 2001, Japanese men expected women to take care of domestic duties,
while in other countries, the males may help with domestic duties and supported their
wives in their careers.

An inspiring session - Best Practice in Mentoring Women Entrepreneurs, Dr. Nona
Ricafort, President BPW Philippines gave the single message to new women
entrepreneurs to see the "Big Picture" as most businesses go under in the first 3
years. My favourite - Madame Chong Kin Wo, founder of Wanchai Ferry Peking
Dumpling company told her personal story of struggle - and of HKWPEA's
entrepreneur/mentoring program.
Out of 45 applications, HKWPEA short listed 3 grassroots women who were given loans
up to HK$100,000 by a local bank and HKWPEA mentors the women. Virginia Littlejohn
from the US talked about Project Tsunami and she is senior advisor to OECD. Ms. Lai
Hong Chen talked about how her little bakery in Taiwan became a successful food co-op.

Another great session featured women in unusual career choices - such as Rebecca Lee
- HK's polar explorer. In addition, members of the All China Women's Federation spoke
at the conference of their experiences and we had breakfast with them. As you can see
there were many great women leaders, academics, and businesswomen who came to the
APEC WLN Conference (I have only pointed out a few of the speakers) to share their

In the evening, BPW Thailand put on a reception in the hotel's courtyard in Thai
hospitality, with of course, another minister (Human Security) in attendance. Then, we
were dazzled by a fantastic fashion show of Thai fashions (the Thai's love to dress up to
the "nines" for the occasion) and the models were members from the Federation
of BPW in Thailand (there are 16 chapters) - complete with exquisitely designed
evening outfits and jewelry. Afterwards, we (Nok and I) gathered members of HKABPW
and the presidents of BPW for Australia, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines
for dinner. (Indonesia and Singapore already flew back to their home countries). Nok
took us to a wonderful local hotspot for Thai seafood by the river. Nok was in Hong
Kong in 2001 when she was a speaker at the Global Summit. Nok is touted to
become the next BPW International President in 2005 and she is the first VP for BPW
International in 80 years to come from the Asia region.

The next day was the wrap-up, summarization of the statements (output from the
sessions) from the WLN to be recommended to the United Nations and APEC, and a
press conference.

On Saturday evening, there was the gala farewell dinner in the hotel's ballroom with
performances by the different APEC economies (countries). For Hong Kong and China
(members of the All China Women's Federation), we sang two songs as part of our
group performance. A few members of the Women's Commission were also in
attendance at the conference. Some of the countries gave more elaborate performances
as they had up to 30-50 members in attendance. (Hong Kong had 18 persons in their
delegation). The evening was attended by the Deputy Mayor of Chiangmai. On this
evening - each country wore their national costumes. Malaysia, Korea and the Philippines
were outstanding in their national outfits.

At the gala dinner, we said good-bye to our old friends from BPW and to our new ones
and the next APEC WLN's will be in Chile (2004) and Korea (2005), respectively.

Besides, the BPW pre-conference, WLN conference, festivities and Thai hospitality,
Chiangmai is famous for its spas (The Regent, Jirung), Thai silk, trekking and
temples. We went to the Shinawatra Silk Factory which is owned by the Prime Minister's
family. Chiangmai is also near to the "Golden Triangle" of Burma, Laos, and China.

Best Regards,
Anna Fang
HKABPW President 2003

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