ASEAN to promote gender equality through HeForShe campaign

In this picture taken on October 1, 2012, shows people sit along the promenade during lunch break at Raffles Place in Singapore. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

In partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) launched the ASEAN HeForShe Campaign on 30 November.

The campaign intends to raise awareness on gender equality in the ASEAN region by encouraging men and boys to act as agents of change to promote a culture of respect for women and girls.

HeForShe initiative invites men and boys as partners for women’s rights, and also recognises how society at large can benefit from gender equality.

During the campaign launch, Yohana Susana Yembise, Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia acknowledged that “while it is not an easy task to change mindset to achieve the UN Women’s vision of Planet 50-50 by 2030, the incremental steps we take today will make significant difference in the way people think about women going forward.”

“To this end, we have to focus on ending violence against women, ending the trafficking of women, and ending discrimination against women,” she added.

The fight to achieve gender equality in ASEAN

Gender equality is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making. In order to realise this vision and to achieve gender equality, men too, must acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

ASEAN’s Secretary-General Le Luong Minh also bolstered the cause for this campaign by stating that gender equality is not a matter concerning women only. “By encouraging men and boys to be agents of change, we would like to inculcate a culture of respect for women and girls. The proactive involvement of men and boys in settings such as family, school, community including those at leadership positions is pivotal in promoting greater gender responsiveness in the ASEAN Community,” he exclaimed.

ASEAN has put in place various regional initiatives to promote gender equality including, most recently, a Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN and the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention.

The Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN reaffirms the region’s goals and commitments to eliminate violence against women and girls, as it has been reflected in the various agreements such as the Ha Noi Declaration on the Enhancement of the Welfare and Development of ASEAN Women and Children in 2010 and the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 2015 amongst others.

On the other hand, the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention will help the region recognise and act upon the prevalence of various forms of violence, including violence against women, children and vulnerable groups, drug abuse, trafficking and youth crimes.

It will also reiterate ASEAN’s responsibility to realise a common vision for an inclusive, sustainable, resilient, dynamic and harmonious ASEAN Community.

ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention.

Through these initiatives, the HeForShe Campaign with UN Women will further encourage collaborative efforts to mainstream and develop programmatic approaches in mobilising men and boys in ASEAN’s efforts to promote gender equality in various areas ranging from employment, education, health, politics and all the way through identities.

In a press release, Dr. Miwa Kato, Regional Director of UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, stated that “we now have evidence to prove what we have long believed to be true: that there can be no peace, no development, and no security unless both women and men are given equal opportunities to meet their full potential and live their lives free from all forms of discrimination.”


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