Women and Children Rights get Spotlight in ASEAN

Jakarta, 16 February 2011

The promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and children in ASEAN step forward today as the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) met for the first time. The ACWC seeks to promote the well-being, development, empowerment and participation of women and children in the ASEAN Community building process. It would also promote public awareness and education of their rights.

Agenda for the three-day meeting includes the development of ACWCs rules of procedure; its five-year work plan, including priority areas and initial activities; and the election of the Commissions Chair and Vice Chair. The meeting will also discuss how to align the ACWC with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). The latter is the overarching institution responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN.

The establishment of the ACWC was very much welcomed not only by the Governments of the ASEAN Member States, but also by regional and international communities, including human rights defenders and democracy advocates worldwide, encouraged the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, when he opened the meeting. Civil society organisations (CSOs) were engaged in the development of Commissions Terms of Reference and the selection of its representatives in some Member States.

If we wish to become a sharing and caring community, we have to take care of the women and children, said the Secretary-General. We have to open up the space so that they feel ownership of ASEAN community-building efforts.

Each ASEAN Member State has two representatives at the ACWC one for womens rights and one for childrens rights.

The first-day meeting decided the election of Mdm Kanda Vajrabhaya from Thailand and Mr Ahmad Taufan Damanik from Indonesia as the Chair and Vice Chair of the ACWC respectively. In accordance with the Commissions Terms of Reference, they will serve the Commission for three years.