ASEAN Countries Unite to End Violence Against Women 

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Earlier last week, Lao Women’s Union (LWU) and the National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mother-Child (NCAWMC) hosted the International Conference on Preventing and Responding the Violence Against Women in ASEAN.

Representatives from ASEAN Member States including government officials of the Laos, international non-governmental organizations, development partners, and civil society organizations, to share progress and identify ways forward for ending violence against women across the ASEAN region attended.

Violence against women and girls continues to exist in all societies around the world, including countries in the ASEAN region, despite the increased awareness on the negative impact of such violence on individuals, families and society.

Violence against women and girls remains one of the most significant challenges in protecting the rights of women and is a barrier in achieving sustainable development.

“​​Violence against women is a pervasive global human rights challenge, rooted in unequal gender power relations, structural inequality and discrimination.”

“It is a moral affront to all women and girls and to all our societies, and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development,” said Ms. Hyereen Park, Deputy Country Director of KOICA,

All ASEAN Member States have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) ensures its effective implementation through the Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women 2016-2025.

The National Action Plan on the Elimination of Violence Against Women ensures this regional initiative is implemented by the Government of Laos.

The international conference fostered triangular and South-South exchange on policies and practices that contribute to effectively prevent and respond to violence against women, with the purpose of empowering ASEAN Member States to develop regional solutions for regional challenges aligned with international standards.

With the vision of eliminating violence against women and girls in ASEAN countries, representatives today committed to embracing more innovation, greater coordination and multispectral service provision, enhanced data collection, and increased collaboration with actors across all sectors, including in civil society.

Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative, speaking on behalf of UNFPA, UNDP, and UN Women, emphasized that “tackling GBV requires partnerships, no single agency or line ministry can do it alone. It requires multisectoral coordination, the combined efforts of Government, UN agencies, and development partners, and it requires intergovernmental and cross border collaboration.”

“Today, we have seen remarkable presentations from countries in the region on practices, but the question now is how do we turn this into action? How can we work together to make sure that we are all contributing to the elimination of violence against women in the best way possible?.”

“There are many different approaches but for ASEAN we must first put women at the centre of our work, and secondly we need to be acting in unified umbrella of supports and services to eliminate violence against women once and for all.” said Mr. Seán O’Connell, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP,

The international conference was held under the Khan Hom Project, a joint project between UNDP and UNFPA funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to implement the Second Five-Year National Action Plan on Preventing and Eliminating Violence Against Women 2021-2025 and provide consistent and quality multisectoral social, health, and justice services to survivors of violence through partnerships with the Government of Laos.

The International Conference on Preventing and Responding the Violence Against Women in ASEAN was hosted by the LWU and NCAWMC, supported by the Khan Hom Project and in collaboration with UN Women as part of the Safe and Fair Program under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.