ASEAN Socio Cultural Community senior officials vow to intensify gender mainstreaming in the region

MAKATI CITY, Philippines – Senior officials from the ten Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States clustered into 12 sectoral bodies of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) presented their proposed actions to intensify gender mainstreaming in the region during the closing ceremonies of the Senior Officials Conference on Gender Mainstreaming on June 29, 2018 at the Dusit Thani Hotel Manila.

For Brunei Darusalam, future points for action include the review of the current legislative framework to ensure full protection of women; proposal to increase maternity leave for 56 days to 105 days; utilization of public and private media to create public awareness on GAD; and development of mechanisms to promote work-life balance, among others.

For Cambodia, development of national policies is one of the most effective strategies to level the playing field of women and men in their community. The action plans, which they intend to develop, include a plan to promote women’s leadership in the civil service, and a national action plan to address Violence Against Women (VAW).

For Indonesia, senior officials plan to draft and enact a gender equality bill and devise monitoring tools to track the progress of agencies in implementing their GAD programs and projects.

As a state which has been recently exposed to gender mainstreaming, Lao PDR plans to adopt gender-responsive budgeting mechanism to fund gender-focused programs. Participants from Lao PDR have likewise committed to collect sex-disaggregated data, produce gender statistics and develop a gender database to effectively respond to the differential needs of women and men in their community.

Malaysia, on the other hand, is eyeing to enact gender-related policies to advance women’s condition such as a Gender Equality Act and an Anti-Sexual Harassment Act.

In consonance with the HeForShe campaign, Myanmar committed to ensure male leaders’ active participation and involvement in GAD-related programs. Myanmar is likewise looking into the creation of a pool of gender trainers or experts within the sectoral body who will help in building the capacities of the agencies in mainstreaming gender and development.

Although the Philippines is considered to be the lead Asian country in closing the gender gap, its representatives admitted that there’s still more to be done in advancing women’s rights. Among the actions that the Philippines will undertake include the sensitization of top-level officials, conduct of multi-disciplinary gender research to collect more information from the grassroots, and strengthening of Monitoring and Evaluation of existing health, labor and social welfare programs for women.

Policy recommendation, capacity development sessions and building a pool of experts are some of the strategies, which Singapore has committed to pursue in light of gender mainstreaming in their community. Representatives of Singapore are also looking into the adoption of sector-specific Gender Analysis Tools and development of standardized GAD training modules for government agencies.

Representatives from Thailand, meanwhile, committed to integrate gender equality in their e-learning processes. Senior officials are likewise keen on conducting national research and policy development to address gender issues in Thailand.

For Vietnam, increasing the number of women in leadership positions is one of the ways to promote women’s welfare in their community. Delegates for Vietnam likewise committed to adopt HeForShe campaign, which enjoins male advocates to push for women’s causes.

The draft Gender Action Plans of the ASEAN Members States were ceremonially handed over to the current ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women and Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Chairperson Dr. Rhodora M. Bucoy.

“With all your active participation in discussions, we have come up with proposed actions to bring about gender equality and women’s empowerment in the ASEAN. We look forward to the translation of these plans in the actual work of the different sectoral bodies,” said Bucoy.

The three-day conference served as a venue to discuss internationally recognized women’s issues that are relevant to the mandates of ASCC sectoral bodies. This initiative is part of the three-part series of conferences to support the development and implementation of gender mainstreaming initiatives across all sectoral bodies in the three ASEAN pillars. It is part of the ACW’s Work Plan for 2016-2022. The conference for the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Political-Security Community are slated to be held in November 2018 and in 2019 respectively.

The Conference is organized by the PCW in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education, Council for the Welfare of Children, Civil Service Commission, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Anti-Poverty Commission, National Youth Commission, Office of Civil Defense, Office of Cabinet Secretary, Presidential Communications Operations Office, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority with support from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Department of Tourism.