The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF 2015) Statement: Reclaiming the ASEAN Community for the People was officially handed by Civil Society Organisations to the ASEAN at a meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 17 February 2015. The APF 2015 statement encapsulates civil society inputs in ASEAN processes. It was presented by the APF delegation to Othman Hashim, the Secretary-General of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), as the Malaysian government will be chairing the ASEAN this year.
One fundamental principle embodied in the statement is Development Justice, a development framework that aims to reduce wealth, power and resource inequalities between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women. The statement also highlights key issues in the region for consideration by the ASEAN governments: democratic processes, governance and fundamental rights and freedoms; peace and security; and discrimination and inequality.
The APF actively calls for the realisation of women’s rights and gender equality as women in the ASEAN are highly impacted by unjust development policies that result to resource-grabbing, trafficking, labour migration, starvation wages, climate change and militarisation.
APWLD member Joms Salvador of Gabriela-Philippines said, “The current market-led economic development has only widened the gap between the rich minority and the poor majority and all the more exposed vulnerable sectors especially women to intersecting conditions of poverty, violence and discrimination. ASEAN should work towards structural changes. A new development model framed on Development Justice is necessary to make the ASEAN Community people-centred.”
“It is high time that our governments move beyond the rhetoric and political declarations to ensure in real terms that women’s rights and gender equality be the topmost priority in building the ASEAN Community. Women in the region will continue to be vigilant and seek accountability from our governments”, stressed Ivy Josiah of WAO, APWLD member.
A broad network of women civil society, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development provided key inputs in to the drafting of the civil society statement.
The ASEAN People’s Forum has been the main civil society engagement mechanism with 10 member nations of the ASEAN (plus Timor-Leste). Malaysia will host the APF this year, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur from 21 to 24 April 2015.