Asia-Pacific Countries Commit to Accelerating Action on Gender Equality and Women?s Empowerment

Bangkok (ESCAP News) — Asia-Pacific countries today adopted a ministerial
declaration committing to accelerate action on achieving gender equality
and women?s empowerment across the region. Representing a strong and united
regional voice, leaders from more than 40 countries committed to
reinforcing their efforts to eliminate gender discrimination and
inequality, as a matter of human rights and for the development and
prosperity of the region.

?We stand together today as guarantors of the rights and opportunities
which vest in every woman and every girl ? as equal, valuable and valued
partners in shaping the future prosperity and destiny of our region,? said
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr.
Shamshad Akhtar in her closing remarks.

?This action-oriented document will help us consolidate our achievements,
identify the gaps and priorities which remain, and tackle these through
stronger institutions and partnerships, with greater financing and
accountability, for gender equality and women?s empowerment in Asia and the
Pacific.?

Over 700 Ministers, policy makers and civil society representatives from
across the region came together at the ?Asian and Pacific Conference on
Gender Equality and Women?s Empowerment: Beijing +20 Review?, organized by
the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(ESCAP), in cooperation with UN Women, where they reviewed progress,
remaining challenges and priorities in advancing gender equality.
Eliminating violence against women and girls, empowering women
economically, increasing women?s political participation and leadership,
addressing emerging environmental challenges and advancing peace and
security for women and girls, were just some of the issues addressed.

The Conference delegates applauded gains in advancing the status of women
and girls in Asia and the Pacific, from progress in education and
employment, to gains in health, political representation and rights. Yet,
as Asia-Pacific countries heard today as the high-level discussions
concluded in Bangkok, challenges remain, with accelerated action needed for
all women and girls to be able to fully and freely exercise their
fundamental human rights, exercising choice and taking advantage of
opportunities.

In closing remarks, Roberta Clarke, Regional Director of UN Women Asia and
the Pacific and Representative in Thailand emphasised: ?This Beijing review
therefore must be connected to the other ongoing development discourses on
post 2015 and the sustainable development goals which culminate in
September 2015. It is vital that member States and civil society remain
vigilant in this process, to maintain a far-reaching gender equality goal,
as well as the targets and indicators on gender equality across other
goals, and carry forward the same messages and the same commitments.?

Through today?s adoption of the ?Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration
on Advancing Gender Equality and Women?s Empowerment?, Governments from
across the region have pledged to strengthen institutions, enhance
accountability, increase resources, forge stronger partnerships and support
regional cooperation in order to advance gender equality and women?s
empowerment.

Following the Conference, Governments will pursue strong, inclusive and
mutually accountable partnerships for the full and effective implementation
of the Ministerial Declaration, alongside the global agenda for gender
equality, namely the Beijing Platform for Action.

Significantly, Governments will explore dedicated funding mechanisms and
programmes to advance gender equality and women?s empowerment, from the
local to the national levels.

The Asia-Pacific Conference was held in advance of the historic and global
commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and
Platform for Action, which will take place next year in New York. During
its 59th session, the Commission on the Status of Women will review the
progress and remaining challenges in realizing gender equality and women?s
empowerment across the globe.

The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place
at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015.
Representatives of member States, UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world will
attend the session.

UN