The ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace, and Security (ASEAN RPA on WPS) – which outlines ways to implement the four main pillars of the WPS agenda – has been launched by the bloc in collaboration with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and UN Women.
In a December 5 press release, UN Women said the regional action plan was adopted by the ASEAN leaders at their recent summit and related meetings as a key deliverable during Cambodia’s term as ASEAN chair.
The plan outlines ways to implement the four main WPS pillars – women’s protection, participation, prevention, and relief and recovery – along with implementation, coordination, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation. It was designed to advance commitments to women’s peace and security and turn them into action.
Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said the development of the ASEAN RPA on WPS is a major step forward towards fulfilling ASEAN’s vision of achieving gender equality.
“Promoting women’s roles and participation across all realms of peace and security ranging from conflict prevention, peacebuilding, preventing violent extremism and tackling emerging security risks such as disaster and pandemics in the region is imperative to reach our goal as an inclusive and people-centered community,” she said.
“ASEAN is committed to forging ahead with advancing the WPS agenda and the ASEAN RPA on WPS will guide our progress,” she added.
US ambassador to ASEAN Yohannes Abraham said the US looks forward to continuing collaboration with the bloc as well as other dialogue and development partners to promote and strengthen the crucial role of women’s participation in fostering regional peace and security.
He added that the regional action plan would build on the USAID administrator’s leadership co-chairing the inaugural ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, and deepen its partnership with the regional bloc.
He continued that it represents an important milestone in ensuring that women are key agents of change to catalyze peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and recovery across the region. It also marks a necessary step in implementing national-level action plans to expand and strengthen women’s involvement at the policy-making table on peace and security issues.
Sarah Knibbs, regional director of UN Women in Asia and the Pacific, said the agenda was founded with a simple but transformative idea that peace is fundamentally linked to gender equality.
She added that the ASEAN RPA on WPS provides a critical framework for realizing a more inclusive and sustainable peace in the region and a starting point to mainstream WPS into peace and security decision-making, including on peacekeeping operations and a response to increasing non-traditional security threats that risk undermining peace and security of this region.