JAKARTA, 6 December 2017 –  In partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), ASEAN launched the ASEAN HeForShe Campaign on 30 November. The campaign launch, which also commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November and 16 days of activism, aimed to raise ASEAN awareness on gender equality by encouraging men and boys as agents of change to promote a culture of respect for women and girls. The HeForShe initiative invites men and boys as partners for women’s rights, and also recognises how the entire society can benefit from gender equality.

Gracing the ASEAN HeForShe Campaign Launch, Yohana Susana Yembise, Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia acknowledged that “while it is not an easy task to change mindset to achieve the UN Women’s vision of Planet 50-50 by 2030, the incremental steps we take today will make significant difference in the way people think about women going forward. To this end, we have to focus on ending violence against women, ending the trafficking of women, and ending discrimination against women.”

“Gender equality is not a matter concerning women only, but all of us including men and boys. By encouraging men and boys to be agents of change, we would like to inculcate a culture of respect for women and girls. The proactive involvement of men and boys in settings such as family, school, community including those at leadership positions is pivotal in promoting greater gender responsiveness in the ASEAN Community,” said Secretary-General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh.

Echoing the importance of promoting gender equality, Dr. Miwa Kato, Regional Director of UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, observed that “we now have evidence to prove what we have long believed to be true: that there can be no peace, no development, and no security unless both women and men are given equal opportunities to meet their full potential and live their lives free from all forms of discrimination.”

The key highlights of the ASEAN HeForShe Campaign Launch included a HeForShe pinning ceremony to demonstrate the commitments to strengthen ASEAN’s works in promoting gender equality. Leaders of the ASEAN University Student Council Union also gathered in a youth session where female leaders highlighted the realities faced by them in their countries, while male leaders proposed actions in how they can work together with their female counterparts to address the challenges. In addition, there was a panel discussion attended by ASEAN senior officials, representative from women empowerment organisation and business leader from the private sector who exchanged views on the ways forward to bring about real changes to advancing women’s equality in the region.

ASEAN has put in place many regional initiatives to promote gender equality including, most recently, a Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN and the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention. The HeForShe Campaign with UN Women will further encourage concerted efforts to mainstream and develop programmatic approach in mobilising men and boys in ASEAN’s work to promote gender equality in various areas from employment, education, health, politics and identities.