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- How does it help tackle violence against women?
- Civil society engagement: working with the ACWC
- Contact information
The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) is a consultative intergovernmental human rights mechanism dedicated to promoting and protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and children within ASEAN member states. It’s formation was mandated as part of the Vientiane Action Programme adopted at the ASEAN Summit in 2004, and its formal establishment was spurred by all ASEAN member states’ ratification of international human rights treaties – specifically the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child – in combination with the increase in human rights instruments adopted by ASEAN on these issues. The Commission consists of two representatives from each member state and reports to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development under the Socio-Cultural Community Council.
The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children is responsible for (ACWC Terms of Reference):
- Promoting the implementation of international instruments, ASEAN instruments and other instruments related to the rights of women and children
- Developing policies, programmes and innovative strategies to promote and protect the rights of women and children to complement the building of the ASEAN Community
- Promoting public awareness of and education on the rights of women and children in ASEAN;
- Advocating on behalf of women and children, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, and encourage ASEAN member states to improve their situation
- Building the capacities of relevant stakeholders at all levels— administrative, legislative, judicial, civil society, community leaders, women and children mechanisms, through the provision of technical assistance, training and workshops—towards the realization of the rights of women and children
- Encouraging ASEAN member states to undertake periodic reviews of national legislation, regulations, policies and practices related to the rights of women and children
- Facilitating the sharing of experiences and good practices, including thematic issues, between and among ASEAN member states related to the situation and well-being of women and children and to enhance the effective implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women of 1979 (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 through, among other things, exchange visits, seminars and conferences
- Encouraging ASEAN member states to consider acceding to, and ratifying, international human rights instruments related to women and children
- Supporting the participation of ASEAN women and children in dialogue and consultation processes in ASEAN related to the promotion and protection of their rights
How does it help tackle violence against women?
The elimination of violence against women is one of the thematic priority areas identified by the ACWC. In addition to drafting the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children in ASEAN, the ACWC is also the monitoring body tasked with overseeing its implementation. To fulfil this role, the ACWC has incorporated efforts to tackle violence against women throughout its work. Under the ACWC’s Work Plan 2012 – 2016, it has:
- Convened a Regional Workshop on Promoting the Right to Nationality for Women and Children in the implementation of CEDAW and CRC in ASEAN member states
- Published the ASEAN Good Practices in Elimination Violence against Women and Eliminating Violence against Children (2014)
- Conducted public campaigns annually to eliminate violence against women
- Conducted a Workshop on the Promotion of Access to Justice for Women Victims of VAW – Trafficking Case
- Conducted a workshop for frontline ASEAN social workers on how to handle violence against women cases
- Developed the Gender Sensitive Guideline for Handling Women Victims of Trafficking in Persons
- Convened the ASEN Regional Conference of Senior Officials on Strengthening the Protection and Empowerment of Women Migrant Workers
Want more? Read the ACWC’s Work Plan
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 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 Regional Plan of Action. 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 gender-based violence. 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:
- For ASEAN to institutionalise policies to eliminate violence against women and develop sustained support across pillars and sectors
- 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.
Want more? Read the Regional Plan of Action
Civil Society Engagement: Working with the ACWC
The ACWC has a stronger mandate to engage with CSOs than the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). As such, there are more opportunities for CSO participation than with other ASEAN bodies.
According to the Southeast Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN there are a number of ways CSOs may engage with the ACWC, including:
- Contacting ACWC Representatives in their country to make enquiries on their work, important dates and activities
- Submitting documents, such as statements, recommendations, proposals and reports to ACWC Representatives and the ACWC to draw their attention to specific issues
- Arranging activities and events such as meetings with ACWC Representatives and the ACWC to facilitate knowledge exchange and information sharing
- Lobbying the ACWC to promote the full implementation of international, ASEAN and other instruments relating to the rights of women and children
- Engaging with the ACWC to provide input into the development of their policies, programs and strategies to promote and protect the rights of women and children
- Engaging with the ACWC to provide input into the ACWC’s studies and research on the situation and well-being of women and children
- Providing submissions such as statements, recommendations, proposals and reports to the ACWC to draw their attention to the realities of women and children in ASEAN during their advocacy of women and children, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised
- Capacity building of relevant stakeholders at all levels
- Periodic review of national legislations, regulations, policies and practices relating to the rights of women and children
- Collection and analysis of disaggregated data relating to the promotion and protection of women and children
- Facilitation of sharing of experiences and good practices, including thematic issues, between and among ASEAN member states on the situation and well-being of women and children to enhance the effective implementation of CEDAW and the CRC
- Engaging with the ACWC in the lead up to and during their annual meetings
Want more? Track ACWC’s upcoming meetings
Case Study: Southeast Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN
The Southeast Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN (the ‘Women’s Caucus’) consists of over 60 organisations and networks from 11 countries, including Timor Leste dedicated to engaging with ASEAN on women’s human rights. Established in 2008, the Women’s Caucus aims to engage with ASEAN representatives at national and regional levels to advance women’s rights across all 3 of ASEAN’s pillars – socio-cultural, economic and political and security. To direct its engagement with ASEAN, the Women’s Caucus identified common issues and concerns among women and girls in Southeast Asia, specifically:
- Violence against women
- Violence against women in the context of migration
- Discriminatory laws and practices
- Political participation
- Economic participation
The Women’s Caucus has actively monitored ACWC’s work and consistently submitted information to ACWC on the approaches it takes to eliminating gender-based violence and transforming gender equality. Notably, the Women’s Caucus has submitted a proposal to the ACWC: ‘Due Diligence and Violence against Women: Enhancing Accountability to ASEAN Women and Girls’. In the proposal, the Women’s Caucus outlines four key areas associated with the due diligence principle – prevention, protection, punishment, remedy/reparations – in the context of violence against women and state obligation.
The ASEAN Secretariat
Public Outreach and Civil Society Division
70A, JI. Sisingamangaraja
Tel. (62 21) 726 3372 or (62 21) 726 2991 | Fax. (62 21) 739-8234, 724-3504