ASEAN, Australia strengthen cooperation in women, peace, security matters

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne attended an ASEAN-Australia dialogue themed “Women, peace and security: progressing implementation on the road to recovery from COVID-19” on November 9.

This was the first event jointly held by the ASEAN and Australia after both sides set up a comprehensive strategic partnership, which drew many senior officials of  ASEAN and Australia, ambassadors of ASEAN countries in Hanoi as well as leading experts and scholars in the region and the world.

Opening the event, Minister Son said that promotion of women's in-depth and extensive engagement in regional peace and security issues is an important topic that is discussed deeply among the ASEAN.

He highlighted the importance of the dialogue in continuing the Vietnamese-initiated agenda on women empowerment in 2020 as well as encouraging and creating favourable conditions for partners to participate deeper in ASEAN cooperation activities, thus paving the way for more discussions on women’s role in the region.

Stressing that women and girls are the most vulnerable groups amid COVID-19 crisis but also an important force in pandemic fight, Son said that they should be considered the centre of efforts in dealing with the crisis and post-pandemic recovering.

For her part, Payne pledged to coordinate with the ASEAN in speeding up the implementation of international commitments and the UN Resolution on Women, Peace and Security, thus strengthening women’s engagement in international peacekeeping operations, humanitarian aid, and making more investment in protecting women’s rights in the community.

She said that cooperation in women-related areas is a priority of Australia. The Australian Government will support the ASEAN in implementing a number of projects in digital transformation, vocational training, enhancing institutional capacity, as well as cooperation programmes in gender equality, while promoting projects on women, peace and security, she said.

Australia will set aside AUD10 million for the strengthening of cooperation in women, peace and security in the region, she said.

Participants at the event discussed measures to enhance the leadership and voice of women in policy-making and increase the economic power of women, making gender equality and women empowerment an important priority in the process of building the ASEAN Community Post-2025 Vision.

They also sought ways to promote women’s role in overcoming COVID-19 impacts as well as common efforts in dealing with major challenges in armed conflicts, extreme violence, climate changes, poverty and social inequality.

They agreed to optimise efficiency of ASEAN-led mechanisms and support from international organisations, while promoting outcomes reached over the years in the field, especially those achieved in 2020.

The ASEAN-Australia Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security was first held in 2018, becoming one of the important joint activities of both sides in the field.