31st ASEAN Summit outcomes: What’s in it for women?

Women in ASEAN may now look forward to a better, empowering and thriving future as three documents relative to their roles in the economy, peace and security and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted during the 31st Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines.

On Women, Peace and Security and the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) as the Philippine focal point to the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), led the crafting and negotiations of the “ASEAN Declaration on the Gender-Responsive Implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and Sustainable Development Goals”.  As the secretariat of the Philippine Women’s Rights Representative to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), Dr. Lourdesita Sobrevega-Chan, the PCW extended the same support to the ACWC-initiated, “Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace, and Security in ASEAN”.

The two statements carry the ASEAN’s theme to intensify efforts towards a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN, particularly on the promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable groups including women.

The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (AMMW) currently chaired by Dr. Rhodora M.  Bucoy, Chairperson of the PCW and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD) endorsed the two documents to the Leaders.

With the ACW’s ASEAN Declaration, the achievement of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, as well as the SDGs, shall be intensified through critical gender-responsive action points.  The action points are: promotion of women’s leadership, elimination of gender stereotyping, elimination of violence against women, economic empowerment of women, and protection and empowerment of women in vulnerable situations through gender mainstreaming across the three pillars of ASEAN — political-security, economic and socio-cultural communities.

Further, ASEAN has placed a high-level political commitment to promoting women, peace, and security in the region through the ACWC’s Joint Statement. The commitment aims to nurture a culture of peace and prevention that includes addressing the root causes of armed conflict.  Embodied is the integration of a gender perspective in all conflict prevention initiatives and strategies. Foremost, is the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence before, during and after armed conflict, the engagement of men and boys for this agenda, and the building of women’s capacity as peace-builders in aid of their full participation in the peace process.

On Women’s Economic Empowerment

The “Action Agenda on Mainstreaming Women’s Economic Empowerment in ASEAN,” was a product of the 4-day ASEAN Women’s Business Conference convened by Undersecretary Nora Terrado of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with the PCW and the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines (WomenBiz).  WomenBiz Chair and Advisor Chit Juan and Boots Geotina Garcia, respectively, are the co-chairs of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN). The document contributes to ASEAN’s thematic priority of promoting inclusive and innovation-led growth. The Action Agenda includes addressing the barriers to growing businesses, promoting women’s participation and leadership; enhancing skills development especially in information and communication technologies, investing for women micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and encouraging public-private sector collaboration.

In line with the Philippine Chairship of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017, the Republic of the Philippines hosted the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits on 13-14 November 2017 in Manila, Philippines, which took take place alongside related meetings and a special celebration of “ASEAN@50”. ASEAN Summit is a biennial meeting of the Leaders of the 10 ASEAN Member States.