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Our Herstory2019-01-16T11:52:53+07:00

Our Herstory

APWLD developed from dialogues among women lawyers, social scientists and activists from Asia Pacific, which began at the 1985 Third World Forum on Women, held in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants in these dialogues recognised that gaining the capacity to mobilise people to understand social, economic and political dimensions of women’s oppression and take collective action for change required a clear focus and strong organisation. In 1986, women lawyers and activists in the region formally launched APWLD and set up a Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Secretariat relocated to Chiang Mai, Thailand in 1997; with a satellite Secretariat in Penang, Malaysia opened in 2017 to support the growing work of APWLD.

The first APWLD steering committee members in 1986, Tagaytay, Philippines. From L-R: Emelina Quintillan, Asma Jahangir, Farida Ariffin, Rani Jethmalani, Virada Somswasdi and Mere Pulea

1st Wave: 1986 - 1997

The Birth of APWLD in the post-colonial era
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi in July


A 10-member Regional Planning Committee meeting held in Delhi in July in preparation for the Asia Pacific Regional Conference in December

Founding of The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development at the regional conference in Tagaytay in December. A seven-member steering committee formed. 1st Steering Committee meeting held


2nd Steering Committee meeting held in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in July. Creation of the Programme & Management Committee and the position of the Regional Coordinator

Emelina Quintillan joined as Regional Coordinator in Kuala Lumpur in October


APWLD officially registered as a non-stock, non-profit company under the Malaysian Companies Act on 9 January. Secretary began work in Kuala Lumpur

The first issue of the quarterly newsletter ‘Forum News’ published


Nimalka Fernando appointed as the Regional Coordinator in January


APWLD jointly published its first major framework document with the Overseas Education Fund International (OEF) in March - The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development: Its Origins, Issues and Vision


Creation of Four Task Forces by a working committee

The Regional Council added to the institutional framework. The first proposed Regional Council met in August for one day in Colombo


The Regional Council formalised at a meeting held in Kuala Lumpur

Human Rights/ Emergency Mobilisation Desk established in July in Colombo, Sri Lanka


Adoption of 1993 APWLD Constitution and By-Laws by Regional Council

Nimalka Fernando appointed as the Coordinator for the Human Rights Mobilisation Project in Colombo Sri Lanka by the Steering Committee in December


APWLD Founding Member Radhika Coomaraswamy appointed as the UNSRVAW

Nimalka Fernando assumed her new post in Colombo in February. Salbiah Ahmad appointed as an Acting Regional Coordinator

A fifth Task Force on Rural and Indigenous Women’s Rights created at working group meeting on 18-19 June. Fatima Burnad took the position of the convener2

An 18-member APWLD Working Committee for Beijing formed and partnership with Asia Pacific Women’s Action Network (APWAN) established


Task forces were consolidated into five areas:

Violence Against Women

Rural and Indigenous Women

Women’s Participation in Political Processes

Labour and Migration

Women’s Rights Human Rights


Adoption of 1997 APWLD Constitution and By-Laws (amendment of 1993 Constitution and By-Laws) by Regional Council on 23 July

2nd Wave: 1997 - 2007

The rise of neo-liberal globalisation
Chiang Mai, Thailand (2nd Secretariat)

3rd Wave: 2009 - 2017

The Era of authoritarian, patriarchal and late capitalism
Chiang Mai, Thailand and Penang, Malaysia