ASEAN commits to promote and protect rights of women and children

VIENTIANE, 22 September 2022 – The 25th ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) Meeting took place today in conjunction with the 21st ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), the 9th ACWC-ACW Consultation Meeting and related meetings via video conference hosted by Lao PDR.

The meeting provided an opportunity for ASEAN Member States to reexamine regional efforts in realising ASEAN’s priorities to end all forms of violence against women and children under the theme “Advancing the Implementation of International and Regional Frameworks on the Elimination of Violence Against Women”.

“In the face of immense global crises, addressing the challenges faced by the ASEAN Member States in eliminating violence against women and children, exacerbated by the engendered impacts of COVID-19, is an urgent priority for cross-sectoral and inter-pillar cooperation and multi-stakeholder engagement in ASEAN,” said Hou Nirmita, Under Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Chair of ACWC.

“Women and children are not merely passive recipients of services, they have indispensable roles in driving lasting change – they need an enabling environment that respect and protect their rights and provide them the needed support to contribute to building a community of equal opportunity,” she added.

ACWC reaffirmed its leadership role in spearheading strategic actions to advance the implementation of ASEAN’s commitments on ending violence against women and children. In particular, these are actions under the regional frameworks that advance the broader agenda on strengthening prevention and response to violence against women and children namely (i) the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the ASEAN RPA on the Elimination of Violence against Children; (ii) the Regional Plan of Action for the Protection of Children from All Forms of Online Exploitation and Abuse in ASEAN; (iii) and the Regional Plan of Action on Implementing the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration.

The ACWC reflected on the progress of implementation of the ACWC Work Plan 2021-2025 and its key contributions to cross-sectoral and inter-pillar cooperation and collaboration towards realising the priorities that impact women’s and children’s lives.

The meeting also deliberated on ACWC’s role in areas such as gender mainstreaming; gender equality and social inclusion; the rights of women prisoners; women’s economic empowerment; sustainable development; women, peace, and security (WPS); trafficking in persons, disability-rights, and recovery from COVID-19 pandemic.

The finalisation of the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security (ASEAN RPA on WPS) aims to mobilise a whole-of-ASEAN approach to advance implementation of the WPS agenda to promote sustainable peace and security for all citizens in the region. As a longer-term strategy for promoting gender mainstreaming in ASEAN, the recently launched ASEAN Gender Mainstreaming Strategic Framework focuses on building greater commitment and capacity across the three ASEAN Community pillars.

Strengthening partnerships with diverse stakeholders has been a top priority for ACWC to accelerate the implementation of the ACWC Work Plan 2021-2025 guided by the Cambodia Chairpersonship of ASEAN theme “ASEAN-ACT- Addressing Challenges Together”. 

On this, the ACWC recognised the longstanding support from partners who joined the Open Session of the 25th ACWC Meeting, namely UNICEF, UN Women, ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT, Australian Mission to ASEAN, Child Rights Coalition Asia, UNDP and UNFPA.