Who We Are
APWLD is the leading network of feminist organisations and individual activists in Asia Pacific. Our 252 members represent groups of diverse women from 27 countries in Asia Pacific. Over the past 34 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.
APWLD fosters feminist movements in Asia Pacific to influence laws, policies and practices at the local, national, regional and international levels. We develop capacities, produce and disseminate feminist analyses, conduct advocacy and foster networks and spaces for movement building to claim and strengthen women’s human rights. APWLD empowers women in the region to use law as an instrument of change for equality, justice, peace and Development Justice.
We believe that advances in women’s human rights are achieved and sustained when autonomous feminist movements exist and have an enabling environment to work. We believe that law can be repressive as well as transformative. We use feminist analysis to dissect, engage with and transform laws, legal practices and the systems that shape and inform them. We believe that the nexus of patriarchy with militarism, fundamentalisms and neo-liberal economic globalisation is responsible for gross violations of women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms. We believe that equality, Development Justice and the realisation of human rights can only happen when women, particularly marginalised women, are empowered to lead policy and legal debates and determine solutions. We believe, to achieve lasting and sustainable change, engagement with women themselves, both at the grassroots and policy making levels, is needed to bring a feminist approach and perspective to their advocacy.
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.