Jakarta. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, launched the HeForShe solidarity campaign at its headquarters in Jakarta on Thursday (30/11), marking a new show of commitment toward eliminating discrimination against women in the region.
"We have a shared responsibility to promote the culture of respect for women and girls, especially through instilling positive values among men and boys," Asean Secretary General Le Luong Minh said during the launch.
He added that the involvement of men and boys was "essential" to promote the human rights of women and girls in Asean.
The HeForShe campaign – launched in 2014 – was created by UN Women, and aims to bring about systematic and structural change that will result in economic, social and political equality.
It is derived from the understanding that gender equality is not merely a women's issue, but a human rights issue, and therefore should be addressed together to create a respectful and equal society for everyone.
"Society based on respect for diversity and tolerance is good for women and men alike. It is not just a women's issue," UN Women regional director Miwa Kato said.
A pilot initiative, known as Impact 10x10x10, seeks to advance and ultimately achieve gender equality and women's empowerment through top-down change by engaging world leaders in government, the private sector and academia.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is one of 10 national leaders committed to this initiative, including the goal of at least 30 percent representation for women in the national legislature, reducing maternal mortality and ending violence against women and girls.
Other leaders committed to the initiative include Icelandic Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Asean member states are notably still far from achieving gender equality, with positions in the public sector at near gender parity only in three countries and a persisting gender gap in school participation at secondary and tertiary levels in all 10 member states, according to the 2017 Asean Community Progress Monitoring System.
The Asean Committee on Women and the Asean Commission on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children are sectoral bodies working on issues of gender equality in the region.
In addition, Asean also has a regional action plan on the elimination of violence against women, which Minh said "will continue to be implemented actively."
At the 31st Asean Summit in Manila, Asean member states adopted several commitments concerning the rights of women, including a declaration on the gender-responsive implementation of Asean Community Vision 2025.
The Asean HeForShe campaign, Minh said, is "only the beginning."
He also emphasized the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration among governments, civil society, the private sector, the media and youth, as part of a larger effort to build an inclusive community and realize Asean Community Vision 2025.
"Men and boys should be encouraged and engaged to take part in preventing and eliminating discrimination and violence against women and girls," Minh said.