ASEAN is forging ahead in realising its steadfast commitment in advancing women’s and children’s rights ensuring no one is left behind.

Leading this cause is the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) who continues to fulfil its mandate to achieve
protection and empowerment of all women and children in the region.  Convened on 8 December 2020 for its 21st ACWC Meeting via video conference, the ACWC Representatives from all ten Member States engaged in valuable discussions on outcomes of initiatives and way forward to accelerate the work of ACWC in advancing the rights of women and children in ASEAN.

Considerable efforts of ACWC were highlighted in the progress of Mid-term Review (MTR) of the Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (RPA-EVAW) and through the development of the Regional Plan of Action for Protection of Children from All Forms of Online Exploitation and Abuse as well as the Regional Plan of Action on Implementing the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration, led by Thailand. “Our women and children play indispensable roles in responding to and building back better from the pandemic. As ACWC, we need to continue to ensure that our policies, including the implementation of the ASEAN Recovery Framework for COVID-19, prioritise the well-being of our women and children.”, said Mdm. Laura Hwang, ACWC Chair and Singapore’s ACWC Representative for Women’s Rights.

The 6th ASEAN Children Forum was organised by Cambodia with the theme “Impact of COVID-19 and the Current Situation of Children”. The outcomes of the Forum were discussed to enhance the roles of the ACWC in ensuring children’s participation on matters affecting them.  Moreover, ACWC work in protecting the rights of children against all
forms of bullying was also advanced through the initiatives of ACWC Viet Nam with the inaugural Online Meeting of Bullying Children at Schools and Online in ASEAN.

With strengthened synergy with other ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and Community Pillars, ACWC continues to leverage its contribution to the implementation of cross-sectoral and inter-sectoral pillar initiativesfor a more collaborative and cohesive approach in moving forward with the implementation of the Bohol Trafficking-in-Persons Work Plan 2017-2020, Women Peace and Security Agenda in ASEAN,  the ASEAN Plan of Action on Culture of Prevention, the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities , the implementation of the Complementarities Initiative and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and importantly, to contribute to the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF).

Looking ahead, the ACWC deliberated on its strategic actions and priorities in the ACWC Work Plan 2021-2025, building on its wealth of experiences for the past ten years.

The ACWC welcomed the continued support and cooperation of UNHCR, UNICEF, Mission of Canada to ASEAN, and Australian Mission to ASEAN during the Open Session of the 21st ACWC Meeting, and highlighted that ACWC will be in close ties with development partners to amplify the impacts of our work for all women and children.

With reaffirmed commitment from ACWC, ASEAN Member States will emerge as a more resilient ASEAN Community in the face of this challenging time.