The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) has concluded a successful ten-day visit to the United States with stops in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
A broad range of challenges face many women and children in Southeast Asia, including poor access to pre-natal and maternal healthcare services, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, human trafficking, and the threat of climate change. The visiting delegation, consisting of representatives from all ten ASEAN countries as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, held substantive consultations to address these issues with U.S. Government officials, nongovernmental organization (NGO), private sector representatives, and academic organizations.
Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues welcomed the group on behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and outlined a range of U.S. government priorities, activities, and programs in support of women’s and girls’ advancement. Other senior officials from the U.S. Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also met with the ACWC representatives, including Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs Nirav Patel, and USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg. The visiting delegation also met with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and her staff to discuss legislative perspectives on women’s and children’s issues.
While in Washington, the group met with numerous NGOs and academics to discuss international migration, human trafficking, gender-based violence, the importance of coalition building, and strategies for communicating the ACWC’s work to the broader ASEAN community. They further visited the Domestic Violence Unit at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and participated in a dialogue discussion at American University hosted by the ASEAN Studies Center and the East West Center.
In New York City, the ACWC representatives met with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). They also held meetings with representatives of Goldman Sachs and Newsweek & The Daily Beast to discuss ways in which private foundations and organizations can support women’s and children’s rights. The representatives participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and visited a New York middle school operated with the support of the Children’s Aid Society, an organization which provides services to needy children and their families.
“The study visit provided an opportunity for the ACWC to better understand, among others, the child protection and juvenile justice systems as well as the policies and practices for the fulfillment of child rights in the United States,” stated Taufan Damanik, Indonesia’s Children’s Right Representative to ACWC. “We also learned from the good practices of the Children’s Aid Society, which provides an integrated and holistic assistance program to New York’s children, from infancy through adolescence, with the involvement of their families.”
“This study visit to the United States has substantially widened ACWC’s perspectives with regards to the promotion and protection of women’s and children’s rights in ASEAN,” added the ACWC Chair and Thailand’s Women’s Rights Representative, Mdm. Kanda Vajrabhaya. “ACWC welcomes the possibility to collaborate in the projects and activities of mutual interest in the future and hopes that the networks established during the visit will be maintained and strengthened.”
“It was a pleasure to welcome the ACWC to the United States and to facilitate what I hope were mutually informative exchanges between the ACWC representatives and their U.S. counterparts,” said Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues. “I am confident that their visit here will be just the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between the United States and ASEAN to protect and raise the status of women and children everywhere. Our global prosperity and stability depend upon it.”
“I am pleased to note the successful visit of the Commission and we look forward to continuing our support to the group’s noble work,” stated U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David Carden. “As Secretary Clinton has stated repeatedly, the evidence is irrefutable: Nations are more stable, peaceful, and secure when women have equal rights and access to maternal healthcare. The same can be said for nations whose children have access to education, healthcare, and are protected from violence or abuse. The stability and prosperity of ASEAN will depend heavily upon its commitment to promote and protect the rights of its women and children.”
The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children was established in 2010 during the 16th ASEAN Summit to promote the well-being, development and participation of women and children in ASEAN.
The delegation’s visit to the United States was supported by the U.S. Government-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility.