Vietnamese Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen delivered the commitment while speaking on behalf of the 10 ASEAN member countries at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which is taking place in New York from March 14-24.
She highlighted the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment and a systematic gender approach to all other goals in 2015 following the adoption of the CEDAW Convention and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
It is significant that targets under SDG 5 and, also, targets under other SDGs address comprehensively and inclusively all gender dimensions, including poverty, health, education, water and sanitation, employment and environment. There is a clear recognition that the achievement of these goals and targets will bring true results for women and girls, while the realisation of gender equality and women's empowerment will contribute to progress across all the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.
ASEAN, therefore, finds the priority theme - Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development - timely and highly relevant.
2015 is also momentous year for ASEAN. In December 2015, all South East Asian countries have proclaimed the formation of the ASEAN Community with the aim of serving better for all the people of Southeast Asia in all areas of life, including the indispensable objective on gender equality and empowerment of women. ASEAN will continue to support gender mainstreaming as essential for securing human rights and social justice.
“We recognise the importance of incorporating a gender perspective in different areas of sustainable development to ensure that there is shared commitment and collective responsibility for the achievement of social and economic goals and protecting environment. As such the goal of gender equality, ending violence against women and women’s empowerment is central to the three ASEAN pillars namely Political-Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community,” Chuyen said.
“We are confident that both the ASEAN 2025-Forging Ahead Together, adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015 in Malaysia, and the 2030 Agenda will go hand in hand and complementing each other, guiding development in Southeast Asia in areas of critical importance, particularly gender equality and empowerment of women,” she added.
According to the official, the ten-member group has achieved various accomplishments in addressing and advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women. These achievements come by way of increasing women’s participation in the labor force, economic, social and political life, improvement in education, balanced population sex-ratio and national machineries for the advancement of women.
The group’s commitment to take concrete steps in addressing gender inequalities in the political-security, economic and socio-cultural spheres by mainstreaming gender perspective is articulated at the 2nd ASEAN Ministerial meeting on women in October 2015 in the Philippines.
ASEAN has also prioritised the need to address and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, and the region has seen significant progress in addressing this in recent years through concerted policy action at both the regional and national levels.
Many ASEAN member states have enacted dedicated national laws on violence against women, and government and civil society actors have stepped up to provide support and care for those who have experienced violence.
“We acknowledge that there is still room for improvement in the implementation of regional legislation and administration of policies to protect women and girls. Recently, at the 27th Summit, ASEAN leaders adopted the Regional Plan of Action on Elimination of Violence against Women and the Regional Plan of Action on Elimination of Violence against Children, sending a strong signal of ASEAN’s zero tolerance approach towards all forms of violence against women and children,” Chuyen said.
At the summit, the leaders also adopted the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; this regional legally binding instrument demonstrates ASEAN’s strong commitment to prevent and combat trafficking in persons in a holistic and coherent manner.
The ASEAN Committee on Women, the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children and the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development continue to lead in advancing women and children’s welfare and development. Projects that were recently adopted or are ongoing include the Gender Sensitive Guideline for Handling Women Victims of Trafficking in Persons, the Progress Report on Women’s Rights, Empowerment and Gender Equality and the ASEAN Guideline for a Non-Violent Approach to Nurture, Care, and Development of Children.
The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has been working to promote the rights of women as an integral and indivisible part of human rights and fundamental freedoms. AICHR hosted the Regional Workshop to Strengthen AICHR’s Protection Mandate through Exploring Strategies and Mechanisms to Protect Women and Girls from Violence in ASEAN in the Philippines last year.
Consistent with the goal to mainstream and enhance the role of women, the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation hosted two workshops on Strengthening Women’s Participation in Peace Processes and the Plight of Women and Children in Conflict Situation in Philippines in 2015. These workshops helped to develop agenda and networks that put the issues of women at the forefront of peace and security discussions.
Furthermore, since its establishment in 2014, the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network has truly become a forum for ASEAN women entrepreneurs to exchange knowledge, best practices, information on policies, business environment and opportunities to promote gender business inclusion and empowerment.
The network hosted many workshops to formulate its Work Plan for 2016-2017 and to finalize the initiative named Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women).
Earlier this month, the network also convened a ceremony in Vietnam to honour outstanding ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs for their contributions in economic and social development.
ASEAN wishes to underscore the important role of the CSW, as a platform for member states to promote awareness, as well as review best practices and lessons learnt on the protection and empowerment of women and girls.
ASEAN calls on the CSW to take a leading role and the synergy and connectivity among stakeholders in implementing the 2030 Agenda in a gender-responsive manner.