Press Release: Southeast Asian Women’s Groups Join Solidarity March At ASEAN People’s Forum 2017
*Express concern that the regional bloc continues to fail them*
For Immediate Release
13th November, 2017
Quezon City, Philippines
At a rally held today in Quezon City, Philippines, women from Southeast Asian countries marched along with other marginalised communities from the region in a display of solidarity and resistance at time when rights and democracy are under attack. The women’s groups working on labour rights, land and resource rights, indigenous rights and other human rights, strongly urged the ASEAN Member States to uphold peoples’ rights and put people, not corporations and a tiny elite at the centre.
“While ASEAN governments’ insist on non-intervention policies on human rights, they quickly surrender sovereignty when it comes to economic policy. Their work to create binding neo-liberal policies of trade and finance liberalisation, privatisation of public goods and de-regulation of any constraints on capital has had devastating impacts on women. It is starkly evident that the ASEAN human rights mechanisms have no capacity or prospect of functioning as a robust redressal mechanism for women’s and people’s rights,” said Marion Cabrera, Programme Officer, at Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).
“ASEAN’s development agenda has only deepened inequality in the region, both within and between countries. Indigenous women in Southeast Asia are being systematically dispossessed of their land, their collective control over natural resources, their traditional agricultural knowledge and practices through the nexus of governments and corporations who seek to maximize profits over peoples’ rights and lives,” said Nasae Yapa from the Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand.
Daisy Arago, Centre for Trade Union and Human Rights of the Philippines added, “The workers in Southeast Asia are experiencing a downward trend in both their wages and their labour rights. This is one of the direct outcomes of ASEAN’s free flow of services and investments that have largely led to contractualization, work precariousness, job insecurity, wage insecurity and therefore, a race to the bottom with women workers at the bottom.”
Women’s groups demanded that ASEAN Member States conduct periodic gender and human rights impact assessments of its existing development agenda, including prior to entering into any trade agreements. They also said that advancing women’s rights and development justice in the region is not completely impossible, but will require a complete change of approach within ASEAN.
ABOUT ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2017 (ACSC/APF 2017)
ACSC/APF is an annual forum of Civil Society Organisations in ASEAN Member States, which is held as a parallel meeting to the ASEAN Summit of Heads of State. The meeting is hosted by civil society in the country that holds the ASEAN Chairmanship. Participants of this forum come from civil society organizations, NGOs, people’s organizations, and people’s movements.
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a leading network of feminist organisations and grassroots activists in Asia Pacific. Our over 200 members represent groups of diverse women from 27 countries in Asia Pacific. Over the past 30 years, APWLD has actively worked towards advancing women’s human rights and development justice. We are an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation and hold consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. F:apwld.ngo T:@apwld
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