Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo has urged global business leaders to strengthen efforts toward gender inclusivity, saying that empowering women would lead to more robust and more equitable economies.

Addressing the 13th Toronto Global Forum in Canada on Thursday night (Manila time), Robredo said business leaders must work harder to shatter “deep-seated cultural and societal biases.”

“Whether you are talking about corporate boardrooms or politics, tech or traditional industries, global companies or small entrepreneurs, women are stronger when they are financially independent,” she said.

Robredo discussed her flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay, particularly a capacity-building program that helps women start and boost their own businesses.

“[W]e need to commit to it because gender inclusion is not just about advancing women’s rights and empowering half of the world. Gender inclusion is, at its very core, about sustaining the whole world,” she said.

The forum was organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas. (