13 – 14 December 2018

Cebu City, Philippines

[Please Check Against Delivery]

Excellencies, Members of the Governing Council and Advisory Board of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Im very delighted to be here today. I would like to thank the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, in particular Ambassador Elizabeth Buensuceso as the Philippines Representative to the ASEAN-IPR Governing Council, for inviting me to this Symposium.

2. This Symposium provides a timely opportunity for the ASEAN-IPR to continue their discussions on womens participation in peace processes and conflict resolutions. Building on previous workshops of same themes, , it serves as a platform for experience-sharing and knowledge exchange among women peace practitioners, with the goal of .building and enhancing the capacities of women in conflict resolution processes. This strongly echoes ASEANs efforts to maintain and enhance peace and reconciliation in the region, including through the active participation of women.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

3. ASEAN is essentially a work of and for peace. The most important foundation for ASEANs success is the maintenance of peace and stability in the region. Building and preserving peace has been a core value and major contribution by ASEAN to Southeast Asia.

4. For example, under the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the APSC Blueprint details priorities on strengthening research activities on peace, conflict management and conflict resolution. One of the action lines specific on the work of the AIPR calls for studies to be undertaken to promote gender mainstreaming in peacebuilding, peace process and conflict resolution as well as in promoting collaboration and networking.

5. T Last year in Manila, our Leaders adopted The Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace, and Security in ASEAN, which aims, among others, to (i) build the capacity of women as peace builders; (ii) encourage the integration of gender perspective in all conflict prevention initiatives and strategies; and (iii) ensure the full participation of women in peace processes such as conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation processes.

6. The Joint Statement affirms for the first time the regions support for the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. It promotes cross-sectoral and cross-pillar approach in the realisation of the WPS agenda as it refers to the importance of womens participation in the political, security and justice sectors. It also identifies gender inequality as a root cause of conflict and a contributing factor in the risk of violent extremism.

7. Although ASEAN has made significant strides in prevention, peacemaking and peace building in the region, strengthening women leadership in peace and security needs more work. Despite efforts in each country to mainstream gender in peace and security, our understanding of womens economic participation in conflict-affected areas remains limited. This is because many information are still not available which makes it difficult for us to fully understand the challenges that women face during conflict, as well as the opportunities that arise out of these difficult times.

Ladies and Gentlemen

8. The effective implementation of Women, Peace and Security agenda requires a broad, sustained and multifaceted approach to gender equality and womens rights. This can take the form of strategic engagement at the global, regional, and national levels, including the design and implementation of various initiatives and action plans. Moreover, it requires commitment by various stakeholders to work together and share resources, expertise and experiences in order to clearly align implementation strategy. To address these challenges, we need gender-inclusive knowledge and gender-responsive solutions, in my view.

9. Gender equality has been an important agenda in ASEAN, not only within ASCC, but as well as in other community pillars. ASEAN-IPR, for instance, has been at the forefront over the years of promoting gender mainstreaming in peace building, peace processes and conflict resolutions in the region. At the ASEAN Regional Forum, discussions on women, peace, and security among the participants are also ongoing. Under the AEC, recognition of gender considerations in economic integration have started to gain momentum, particularly in ensuring that gender-related policies are incorporated in AEC measures.

10. Evidence suggests that without womens equal participation, peace agreements are more fragile and economies less prosperous. In fact, we have just organized this week in Manila the Senior Officials Conference on Gender Mainstreaming for ASEAN Economic Community to better understand gender issues and market integration., Within the ASEAN Secretariat, we are working with various partners to implement initiatives to promote empowerment of women and girls and gender equality, including the launching of the regional awareness program called ASEAN HeForShe Campaign in November 2017.

Ladies and Gentlemen

11. There is no doubt that we need to deal with gender and security challenges in the region. Although it is clear that womens participation can lead to sustainable economic development, there is, unfortunately, a limited understanding of the issues. The evidence is also compelling. There are too few women when it comes to peace and security decision-making and too few resources and opportunities for womens participation in peacebuilding. Around the world, political resistance and violence continue to limit women growth, limit their access to resources and power, and even undermine their ability to care for themselves and their families.

12. Decades of experience shows that these barriers can best be overcome through the collective efforts by everyone, including the strong networks of like-minded policy makers and stakeholders. The United Nations has been supporting countries to expand the pool of women in order to enable them to participate and influence peace processes. In the Philippines, for example, women stand up for peace. The country has witnessed robust womens participation in the peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that led to a comprehensive peace agreement after 17 years of negotiating. The peace agreement was hailed for its strong provisions on womens rights as well as for womens political, social and economic participation. In fact, Ms Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government negotiating panel, was the first woman to be a signatory to a major peace agreement.

13. There is no doubt that collective actions are crucial for mainstreaming womens rights and gender equality in peace and security. In this regard, the establishment of an ASEAN Women Peace Registry (AWPR) is an important initiative towards addressing this issue and to build the capacity of women as peace-builders and to encourage a more gendered approach to peace and conflict in the region. It is through initiatives such as this that women will be empowered to contribute actively to the maintenance and promotion of peace in the region, the very basis for our ASEAN Community.

With that note, I wish you a fruitful Symposium.
Thank you