Rights of Women & Children in ASEAN


“The ASEAN Leaders inaugurated the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) on 07 April 2010 in Hanoi, Vietnam. “The establishment of the ACWC represents the common will of the ASEAN Leaders enshrined in the Vientiane Action Programme in 2004 and the roadmap for the ASEAN Community for 2009-2015,” said Vietnam PM Nguyen Tan Dung in a speech delivered at the inauguration. He added that the creation of the ACWC will contribute greatly to the empowerment and participation of women and children especially in building an ASEAN Community. According to its ToR, the ACWC shall develop policies, programs and innovative strategies, and propose and promote appropriate mechanisms for the prevention of all forms of violations against the rights of women and children.” – Human Rights Herald, ASEAN July 2010 Issue

This sounds first-rate however we have yet to see concrete measures in areas of legislation/enforcement and inter-regional cooperation on the rights of women and children. Has anyone seen these “innovative strategies”? What are the “appropriate mechanisms”? Sounds more like fancy chatter and nothing more… as usual. Why has ASEAN failed or neglected to effectively communicate their approaches in eradicating violence against women and children? Aren’t the NGOs advocating ASEAN for more results, or the NGOs are as inadequate as their government? With the establishment of so many commissions and steering groups, not to mention the hundreds of action sub-committees, assemblies and working groups, and the money and enormous resources pumped into them, ASEAN is more redundant and pointless, serving the holiday needs of the politician-members during their many ‘rigorous’ dialogues, unless of course that’s what we’re expecting ASEAN to do.


An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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