No woman left behind for Asean
From rewriting school textbooks to curbing trafficking of women, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) seeks to make sure that no woman or girl is left behind under the unified economy to be formed by the 10-member bloc starting yearend.
“The spirit of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the hub of the Asean Vision 2025,” Asean deputy general for community and corporate affairs AKP Mochtan said on Friday at the opening of the 2nd Asean Ministerial Meeting on Women held in Makati.
“What we starve for is a truly people-oriented, people-centered Asean,” Mochtan said.
In the past few days ahead of the ministerial meetings, the Asean Committee on Women (ACW) has worked on a five-year plan until 2020 and identified six priority areas, Philippine Commission on Women executive director Emmeline Verzosa said in an interview with Inquirer after the opening ceremonies of the ministerial meeting.
ACW’s six areas of focus are: changing social norms; gender mainstreaming in different sectoral bodies; tracking and promoting women in leadership; ending violence against women; protection and empowerment of vulnerable groups, and women’s economic empowerment.
Asean groups Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Burma (Myanmar), Laos and Cambodia and Vietnam.
Being the Asia-Pacific’s top performer in terms of gender equality based on the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap report, the Philippines has a lot of stories to share to regional peers.
The country has had two women presidents and has quite a number of women holding high positions in both the government, private sector and as well as in civil society organizations.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, who welcomed the Asean delegates, said: “Here in the Philippines, our social narratives in the last six years have become deeply and forcefully shaped by women decision-makers in key positions in government. In the areas of peace, justice and development, significant areas have been achieved because women have dared to venture further and more creatively in the pursuit of their mandates.”
She cited how women leaders have called the shots in a long-drawn out peace process. Although she did not specify names, she was referring to Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government peace panel in negotiations with Muslim separatist rebels.
She also cited the appointment of the first woman Chief Justice (Maria Lourdes Sereno) and the strong women at the helm of the Office of the Ombusman (Conchita Carpio Morales), the Department of Justice (Leila de Lima), the Commission on Audit (formerly headed by Grace Pulido-Tan) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (Kim Henares).
Soliman said women in the grassroots organizations, including those in the government’s conditional cash transfer program or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, were likewise working to develop sustainable communities.
“Women have transformed into leaders in their own families and communities, solving problems, working on challenges, building up capacities, making the most of employment opportunities while still being the primary source of care, love and guidance. I am certain that these stories are not unique in our country,” Soliman said.
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