Vietnamese Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen indicated this on behalf of the 10 ASEAN member countries at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which is taking place in New York from March 14-24.
She highlighted the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women's empowerment and a systematic gender approach to all other goals in 2015 following the adoption of the CEDAW Convention and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
It is significant that targets under SDG 5 and, also, targets under other SDGs address comprehensively and inclusively all gender dimensions, including poverty, health, education, water and sanitation, employment and environment.
There is a clear recognition that the achievement of these goals and targets will bring true results for women and girls, while the realisation of gender equality and women's empowerment will contribute to progress across all the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.
ASEAN, therefore, finds the priority theme - Women's empowerment and its link to sustainable development - timely and highly relevant.
2015 is also momentous year for ASEAN. In December 2015, all South East Asian countries have proclaimed the formation of the ASEAN Community with the aim to better serve the people of Southeast Asia in all areas of life, including the indispensable objective on gender equality and empowerment of women, better.
ASEAN will continue to support gender mainstreaming as essential for securing human rights and social justice.
"We recognise the importance of incorporating a gender perspective in different areas of sustainable development to ensure that there is shared commitment and collective responsibility for the achievement of social and economic goals and protecting environment.
"As such the goal of gender equality, ending violence against women and women's empowerment is central to the three ASEAN pillars namely Political-Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community," Pham said.
"We are confident that both the ASEAN 2025-Forging Ahead Together, adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015 in Malaysia, and the 2030 Agenda will go hand in hand and complementing each other, guiding development in Southeast Asia in areas of critical importance, particularly gender equality and empowerment of women," she added.
The group's commitment to take concrete steps in addressing gender inequalities in the political-security, economic and socio-cultural spheres by mainstreaming gender perspective, is articulated at the 2nd ASEAN Ministerial meeting on women in October 2015 in the Philippines.
ASEAN has also prioritised the need to address and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, and the region has seen significant progress in addressing this in recent years through concerted policy action at both the regional and national levels.
Many ASEAN member states have enacted dedicated national laws on violence against women, and government and civil society actors have stepped up to provide support and care for those who have experienced violence.
"We acknowledge that there is still room for improvement in the implementation of regional legislation and administration of policies to protect women and girls.
"Recently, at the 27th Summit, ASEAN leaders adopted the Regional Plan of Action on Elimination of Violence against Women and the Regional Plan of Action on Elimination of Violence against Children, sending a strong signal of ASEAN's zero tolerance approach towards all forms of violence against women and children," Pham said.
At the summit, the leaders also adopted the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; this regional legally binding instrument demonstrates ASEAN's strong commitment to prevent and combat trafficking in persons in a holistic and coherent manner.
The ASEAN Committee on Women, the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children and the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development continue to lead in advancing women and children's welfare and development.
Projects that were recently adopted or are ongoing include the Gender Sensitive Guideline for Handling Women Victims of Trafficking in Persons, the Progress Report on Women's Rights, Empowerment and Gender Equality and the ASEAN Guideline for a Non-Violent Approach to Nurture, Care and Development of Children.