MANILA The Philippine government opened on Monday a three-day regional conference seeking to infuse gender perspectives into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC).
The Senior Officials Conference on Gender Mainstreaming in the AEC is the second attempt of the Philippines and the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) to imbue gender consideration in all pillars of the bloc.
Last June 2018, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) organized a similar conference for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, with the third of the three-part series slated in 2019 for the ASEAN Political-Security cluster.
PCW chair Rhodora Bucoy said some women still bear the brunt of poverty in the region despite the continuous economic growth it experiences. "In many parts of Asia, gender disparity persists. This, while we experience economic growth," she said.
Bucoy stressed the need for gender mainstreaming in ASEAN as an impact of all issues, projects, and programs often carry a different impact on the lives of women and men.
"Gender mainstreaming can transform mindsets and restructure organizations so that they become more responsive to the needs of women and men," she said in her opening remarks.
From within the bloc, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary and Director General to the ASEAN-Philippines National Secretariat Junever Mahilum-West acknowledged a lot is still to be done. "Mainly, it's awareness and education."
"Majority of the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are actually run by women," she pointed out.
"If you will acknowledge this and give them access to logistics and financial services, this will greatly benefit the bloc," she said in mixed Filipino.
Discussions on the projected gender impact of the AEC, as well as the monitoring and evaluation processes in the cluster, will be tackled on the first day of the conference.
On the second day, PCW will introduce its Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework as a possible tool that may be used by the sectoral bodies of the AEC.
About 150 delegates from 21 AEC sectoral bodies representing trade, finance, e-commerce, consumer protection, tourism, science and technology, agriculture, energy, information and communications technology, competition, transportation, are participating the event.
The event, which will run from December 10 to 12, is organized by the PCW in partnership with the ASEAN-USAID IGNITE (Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through Innovation, Trade and E-Commerce) Project and the Australian Project Investing in Women (Philippines). (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency