JAKARTA, 2 August 2022 – On July 29, the first ASEAN-U.S. Senior Officials Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment was convened to deepen the robust and comprehensive partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States.
The meeting was co-chaired by Lenny N. Rosalin, the Deputy Minister for Gender Equality, Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia and Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), and Jamille Bigio, Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
This meeting provided a firm foundation for the ASEAN-U.S. shared commitment to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment cooperation across four proposed priorities, including 1) women’s economic empowerment, 2) women, peace, and security (WPS), 3) gender mainstreaming, and 4) gender-based violence prevention and response. It also sets the stage in preparation for the upcoming ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Dialogue on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment on September 29, 2022.
Deputy Minister Rosalin, ACW Chair and Co-Chair of the meeting, highlighted that “this marks a successful milestone in ASEAN-U.S. cooperation. It bridges the work of multiple ASEAN sectoral bodies across the three community pillars.”
Rosalin added that “the robust cooperation of the U.S. government on the ASEAN WPS agenda has highlighted our flourishing partnership. The flagship ASEAN WPS study, supported by USAID, captured regional lessons that will help jumpstart the development of the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on WPS, which ASEAN will submit for adoption at the ASEAN Summit in November of this year. More importantly, there is much more space for our future cooperation in women’s economic empowerment.”
“Ensuring women’s digital and financial inclusion is a critical priority. ASEAN plans to endorse the Declaration on Building a More Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient Future: Unlocking Women’s Entrepreneurship this year. Having stronger cooperation between ASEAN and the United States for promoting women’s technological and entrepreneurial capacity will be critical to expanding ASEAN to ability recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening women-led ASEAN Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), and building future resiliency in the region,” Rosalin continued.
Co-chair Jamille Bigio noted that “this year, the United States and ASEAN celebrate 45 years of partnership in promoting peace, stability, and prosperity–an enduring friendship that was reaffirmed in the 2022 U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit Joint Vision Statement. Together, we recognize that our shared strategic goals are advanced by investing in gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
Bigio also highlighted that in January 2022, under joint leadership of the ACW and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, the U.S , through USAID, assisted ASEAN to develop and launch the inaugural ASEAN Gender Mainstreaming Strategic Framework (2021-2025).
“Thanks to this Framework, the U.S. Government and ASEAN have a platform for continued collaboration to enhance ASEAN’s commitment and strengthen its capacity to advance gender equality and unlock the full potential of all women and girls across the region,” remarked Bigio.
The Senior Officials Meeting reaffirms high-level collaboration between ASEAN and the United States. Participants included delegates and representatives from the ACW, ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and Entities, ASEAN Secretariat, a broad U.S. delegation including USAID, the White House Gender Policy Council, and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. Representatives exchanged views on areas for cooperation and coordination across the four proposed priorities.
The ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network, the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, and UN Women participated during an Open Session of the meeting to share current priorities and opportunities for progress and collaboration.
The discussion further accelerates realization of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the potential development of the ASEAN Post-2025 Community Vision. A draft ASEAN-U.S. Joint Ministerial Statement was presented and will be shared with ministers and leaders for endorsement during the special ministerial meeting in September 2022.