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The ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) is a sectoral body established in 1976 to implement, coordinate and monitor the implementation of ASEAN’s regional priorities related to women’s issues at various levels of political, economic and social life. It is comprised of senior officials who are responsible for the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of ASEAN’s key regional priorities and cooperation in women’s issues and concerns.

The ASEAN Committee on Women is responsible for:

  • Collaborating with and building the capacity of government officials, developing policies, exchanging best practices and organising study visits
  • Preparing and producing various publications and regional reports. The ACW particularly focuses on
  • Monitoring the implementation of the Declaration of the Advancement of Women in the ASEAN Region and is required to publish a status report every three years. Monitoring and reporting requires the ACW to provide data and information on the:
    • Profile of women’s participation in political, social, economic and cultural lives
    • Promotion of women’s participation through community and non-governmental organisations
    • Integration of women’s concerns into national plans and programmes
    • Promotion of women’s solidarity in the region

How does it help tackle violence against women?

As the oldest existing women’s body within the ASEAN, the ACW has been the leader on efforts to eliminate violence against women in the region. The ACW oversaw the creation of the ASEAN Committee on the Rights of Women and Children and drafted the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 2004. It was instrumental in developing the two operational documents that form ASEAN’s framework for cooperation on women – both of which focus on eliminating violence against women:

  • The Work Plan for Women’s Advancement and Gender Equality (2011-2015), which has its roots in the 1988 Declaration on the Advancement of Women in ASEAN
  • The Regional plan of action to implement the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children in ASEAN

Although ASEAN has now established a Ministerial Meeting on Women (AMMW) under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, the ACW continues its work alongside the AMMW.

iconLockWant more? Read the Work Plan of the ASEAN Committee on Women (2011-2015)

Regional plan of action to implement the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children in ASEAN

In 2014, the ACW held its first joint meeting with the ASEAN Committee on the Rights of Women and Children to develop a regional plan of action for implementing the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children in ASEAN (ASEAN RPA on EVAW). Following the definition used by the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), the Regional Plan of Action defines violence against women as:

“…any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”

Regional and international human rights commitments are acknowledged in the RPA. Specifically, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (General Recommendation No 19), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889 (on Women, Peace and Security) are mentioned with regard to member states’ international commitments to tackling violence against women. It also draws attention to the Sustainable Development Goals and the indicators and targets to eliminate violence against women.

The objectives of the Regional Plan of Action are:

  1. For ASEAN to institutionalise policies to eliminate violence against women and develop sustained support across pillars and sectors
  2. For each member state to have effective prevention and protection services supported by an adequate national legal framework and institutional mechanisms to eliminate violence against women

To achieve these objectives, the RPA outlines key thematic areas for action: prevention; protection and support services for survivors; legal framework, prosecution and the justice system; capacity building; research and data collection; management, coordination, monitoring and evaluation; partnership and collaboration; review and communications.

iconLockWant more? Read the Regional Plan of Action

iconStarCivil Society Engagement: ASEAN Accredited Civil Society Organisations

ASEAN-Accredited Civil Society Organisations perform functions and activities that are governmental or quasi-governmental in nature, but are not formally incorporated into the ASEAN structure. These CSOs are allowed to establish working relationships with a specific ASEAN body relevant to its specialisation. To receive accreditation, CSOs must submit an application to the ASEAN Secretariat for review and approval. Once approved, CSOs are expected to fulfil certain requirements (e.g. invite officials of ASEAN member states to their meetings) and participate in relevant ASEAN activities as consultants.

ASEAN Accredited Civil Society Organisations may (ASEAN Guidelines on Accreditation of Civil Society Organisations):

  • Submit written statements, recommendations, proposals and views on policy matters or significant events or regional or international concerns to the ASEAN Standing Committee through the ASEAN Secretariat
  • Initiate programmes of activities for presentation to its link body for appropriate action
  • Attend meetings of the link body for consultation on matters and issues of direct concern to it
  • Access ASEAN documents for the purposes of research for its projects
  • Use the facilities of the ASEAN Secretariat for its official meetings and other official activities in Jakarta be provided with key ASEAN publications each year

iconLockWant more? Read the ASEAN ‘Guidelines on Accreditation of CSOs

iconStarCase Study: ASEAN Confederation of Women’s Organisations (ACWO)

The ASEAN Confederation of Women’s Organisations (ACWO) is an ASEAN-Accredited Civil Society Organisation that has an established working relationship with the ACW. It consists of the National Council of Women’s Organisations in each ASEAN member state and serves as a regional forum for ASEAN women to engage with the strategies and programmes adopted by their respective governments. ACWO’s work encourages implementation of states women’s human rights obligations under international agreements (ASEAN included) and enhance women’s participation in national and regional progress.

As an ACW partner, the ACWO has been an active participant in developing regional strategies to tackle gender-based violence and discrimination against women generally. For Example, in ACW’s 2006 ‘World Plan to Operationalize the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in ASEAN’, one of the key regional strategies to progress implementation included:

14. Development of a cooperative program between ACW and ACWO in addressing poverty

Lead country: Vietnam

Considering that one of the contributing factors to gender-based violence is poverty, supporting poor women’s economic empowerment through poverty programmes is one of the concerns of WAGE. In the tradition of ACW and ACWO partnership, a cooperative programme will be developed to support women victims of violence. The program will benefit especially from the experiences of ACWO members, many of whom are from the business sector. It could also benefit from the lessons learned from successful cooperative programmes in other countries.”


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