ASEAN Women Demand an Alternative

By APWLD, June 26, 2015

ASEAN governments are drafting their 10 year vision for the region, making it clear they envision enhanced economic integration as a way towards economic growth- but not much else. Leading women’s groups in the region are demanding a new ASEAN Community, saying the current ASEAN vision risks being a continuation of the flawed political and economic systems which prioritise corporate and investor interests over human rights, cause gross inequalities, and are the sources of the current climate crisis.

Recognising that the current ASEAN vision neglects many critical areas crucial to a people-centered development, the women’s groups reject the current structure of the ASEANand call for a restructuring of the ASEAN pillars to five new pillars which reflect the five transformative shifts of Development Justice: Economic justice, Redistributive justice, Social and Gender justice, Ecological Justice and Accountability to the People.

Representatives from thirty women’s groups from the Southeast Asian region gathered for a Roundtable on Alternative Regionalism and ASEAN Women’s Blueprint, which was organised by the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) in Kuala Lumpur on 20-21 April 2015 to articulate their own vision of a developed ASEAN. The resulting document “Vision 2025: ASEAN Women’s Blueprints for Alternative Regionalism” has been submitted to the High Level Task Force, aimed at influencing ASEAN Coordinating Council’s draft on the ASEAN post-2015 vision.

The submission emphasises that the ASEAN has promoted a harmful contradiction. Member states have abandoned ASEAN principles of ‘non-interference’ and ‘state sovereignty’ in relation to capital and economic policy but doggedly retained them in relation to human rights. The modern ASEAN has embraced giving rights and freedoms to foreign corporations while denying them to ASEAN citizens.

For ASEAN women’s civil society, what is now urgently needed is a reinvigorated, truly people-centered alternative regionalism which secures the fundamental rights and freedoms of ASEAN people, advances women’s rights and gender equality, promotes ecological sustainability, and delivers development justice for all ASEAN people.

“We strongly urge ASEAN member states to develop an alternative model of regionalism that is grounded in human rights, that redistributes power, resources, wealth and opportunities between and within states, between rich and poor and between men and women,” stated the women’s groups who were part of drafting this statement.

It is interesting to note that that ASEAN is also calling their visioning process Post2015, as the rest of the world is engaging in the Post 2015 sustainable development agenda, in which a set of goals is being crafted to address many of the world’s most dire problems: poverty, gender inequality, malnutrition and disease, environmental degradation, among others. If the ASEAN persists with its current post 2015 Vision, it stands in direct contradiction to the goals of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, and will in fact perpetuate the exact same destructive and deeply inequitable systems that cause and reinforce each of the issues the post-2015 SDGs seek to fix.

READ THE FULL TEXT: Women’s Blueprint for Alternative Regionalism in ASEAN Vision 2025

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