Jakarta, January 28, 2022 – Recognizing the transformative roles that women fulfill in building, maintaining, and fostering peace, and security in the region, ASEAN is currently developing the Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace, and Security in ASEAN with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and UN Women. This initiative advances implementation of the 2017 Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN and a principal recommendation of the ASEAN Regional Study on Women, Peace, and Security launched in 2021. Members across ASEAN sectors virtually convened today at the First Meeting of the Expanded Advisory Group on Women, Peace, and Security in ASEAN to set in motion an accelerated effort to develop the Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace, and Security.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Ekkaphab Phanthavong, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, underscored the urgency of the initiative: “The core tenets of the women, peace, and security agenda are even more relevant now than before. The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed a lesson learned from other crisis situations—to seek and achieve sustainable solutions to intractable social issues, it is critical to apply a gender lens to understand the impact and create inclusive responses for recovery and resilience of communities and nations.”
The meeting involved key representatives of multiple ASEAN sectoral bodies overseeing regional cooperation on gender equality and women empowerment, defense, transnational crime, human rights, disaster management and humanitarian assistance. Important updates were exchanged on WPS-related initiatives in their respective sectors. Representatives also weighed in on the plan and progress of development of the ASEAN RPA on WPS, including priority actions. The ASEAN RPA on WPS is planned to be submitted for adoption by the ASEAN leaders at the upcoming 40th ASEAN Summit in November 2022.
Development of the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace, and Security is being led by the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC). USAID is leading the U.S. government effort to continue its commitment and collaboration with ASEAN, UN Women, and other partners to promote and strengthen women’s meaningful participation in peacekeeping efforts and security decision-making processes. The U.S. government – through the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project – has joined with UN Women and Canada to support the RPA development, building on the partnership with ASEAN to conduct the ASEAN Regional Study on Women, Peace, and Security.
Independent of the advisory group meeting, Dr. Steven G. Olive, Mission Director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia, commented on the importance of the initiative and the U.S. government’s commitment of continued support. He highlighted, “Initiating the development of the ASEAN WPS Regional Plan of Action represents a significant stride to ensure women are engaged as meaningful participants at peacebuilding negotiating tables. Strengthened national WPS and gender equality policies, the cultivation of community-based response to violent extremism through peace villages, the deployment of female peacekeepers to UN operations abroad, and the growing support for enhancing gender-inclusive regional trade through women’s economic empowerment initiatives are just a few examples of how women’s participation in building solutions is foundational to sustainable development and peace.”