ASEAN strengthens commitment to protect and advance the rights of women and children

ASEAN continues to strengthen its commitment to promote and protect the rights of women and children in the region, especially in these challenging times.

The 20th ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) Meeting was held on 28 July via video conference, chaired by Singapore’s ACWC Representative for Women’s Rights, Mdm. Laura Hwang. Through the ACWC, ASEAN Member States reaffirm its commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls in the region.

ACWC Representatives from all Member States deliberated on key initiatives and projects such as the ASEAN Gender Mainstreaming Strategic Framework, the Mid-Term Review of the Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women (RPA-EVAW), the ASEAN campaign on Ending Gender-Based Workplace Exploitation through knowledge and music, ACWC’s visibility, the Legal Identity of All Women and Children in ASEAN: A Regional Synthesis, as well as the ASEAN Regional Study on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). “In collaboration with the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and with the support from US PROSPECT and UN Women, the ACWC has just convened the second advisory group meeting to further discuss the regional study on WPS. The emerging observations and shared vision to implement the multi-year programme on WPS agenda in ASEAN are most useful to enrich the study and its strategic objectives,” said Professor Lourdesita Sobrevega-Chan, the Philippines’ ACWC Representative for Women’s Rights.

Further, ACWC has advanced the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of Children from All Forms of Online Exploitation and Abuse in ASEAN and the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration, through the development of the Regional Plan of Action (RPA) for Protection of Children from All Forms of Online Exploitation and Abuse, as well as the RPA on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration, respectively. “This pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by our women and children. We therefore require stronger collaboration across the public, people and private sectors, while we are still adjusting to the ‘new normal’ way of working, to enhance and finalise these key initiatives and outcomes to achieve gender equality, and promote the rights of women and children in ASEAN,” said Mdm. Laura Hwang, the ACWC Chair.

The ACWC endeavours to contribute actively to the implementation of initiatives amongst the sectoral bodies across the three ASEAN pillars. In addition to the above, the ACWC Representatives are committed to move forward with the implementation of the Bohol Trafficking-in-Persons Work Plan 2017-2020 as well as to support the implementation of the Complementarities Initiative between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Open Session of the 20th ACWC Meeting welcomed the exchange of updates and views with partners from UNICEF, UN Women, and Plan International. An upcoming collaborative activity of ACWC and relevant partners is the convening of the 2nd Regional Online Forum on Eliminating Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM). The Forum aims to build on the recommendations from the 1st Forum held in March 2019 as well as to provide practical solutions to end CEFM, including on ways to integrate the solutions into COVID-19 response and recovery measures.

The 20th ACWC Meeting is the first of the series of activities to mark its 10th year anniversary in 2020. The commemoration will culminate with the ACWC Retreat and the launch of ACWC 10th Year Accomplishment Report back to back with the 21st ACWC Meeting and ACWC Partnership Conference 2020 scheduled in November 2020 hosted by Viet Nam.