|Vietnamese National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân speaks at the event. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân called for ensuring the legitimate economic and health benefits of women via effective and timely measures at the first-ever ASEAN Women Leaders’ Summit.
She said global, regional and national efforts related to gender equality should be maintained and unobstructed at the virtual event on Thursday.
ASEAN needed to put women into the focus of reconstruction and recovery, enhance women’s leadership and voices in the decision-making process, increase their economic empowerment to narrow the development gap and strengthen the ASEAN Community’s resilience against external shocks, she said.
The summit was attended by female leaders of ASEAN member states and was one of the important activities within the framework of the ASEAN Year 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of Beijing Declaration on gender equality, the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council’s first Resolution on women, peace and security, and the fifth anniversary of the ASEAN Community and the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals till 2030.
Amid complex developments in the region and the world, Ngân called on ASEAN to take new, creative and effective approaches to upholding women’s role in every aspect, especially tapping benefits from digital technology.
Việt Nam would hold the ASEAN High-level Forum on women’s role in comprehensive and sustainable recovery next year. She said the forum would offer practical recommendations to realise the ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework recently adopted at the 37th ASEAN Summit as well as assist the process of building post-2025 ASEAN Vision.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc described women as an indispensable factor in building peace and sustainable security.
Recently, women’s role had been proved in the fight against COVID-19 when countries led by women recorded six times fewer deaths than those in other countries, he said.
He cited the UN’s estimate as saying that 435 million women and girls would be pushed into poverty by 2021, 47 million of them directly hit by COVID-19. Additionally, social distancing policies and national resources for pandemic prevention and control also contributed to increasing domestic violence and reducing the quality of key medical services for women.
The PM wished the summit would offer direction to help ASEAN women contribute more to the process of building the ASEAN Community as well as join efforts to ensure peace, security, sustainable and inclusive development in the region.
Speaking about the theme 'Women Empowerment for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in a Changing World', Dutch Queen Maximax, also special advocate to the UN Secretary-General for Inclusive Finance for Development, spoke highly of women’s increasingly important role in the development of the world in the near future, including increasing economic empowerment for women on inclusive finance, digital transformation and e-commerce.
World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Victoria Kwakwa shared suggestions to protect women’s health as well as help them join socio-economic activities following the pandemic.
Speaking to media on the sidelines of the summit, Ambassador Nguyễn Nguyệt Nga, senior advisor to the ASEAN 2020 National Secretariat and Việt Nam’s representative at the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry (AWPR), said the summit was a landmark of the ASEAN Year 2020 when Việt Nam holds the chairmanship. It would create momentum for regional women to prove their role in the community.
"Among vulnerable groups, women are the worst affected by COVID-19 in many aspects such as healthcare, education and employment. Therefore, they play a significant role in the pandemic fight and post-pandemic recovery," Nga told Việt Nam News.
"The pandemic combat, digital transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution require the soft power of women, as well as their connectivity and adaptability capacity."
According to the ambassador, ASEAN must contribute to the common goals set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including gender equality and the empowerment of women and children, if the bloc wants to affirm its global role.
President of the Việt Nam Women’s Union (VWU) Hà Thị Nga said the summit demonstrated ASEAN’s strong commitments to enhancing gender equality and empowering women and Việt Nam’s policy on promoting women’s progress and gender equality.
The summit promoted women’s role in all sectors, towards a comprehensive ASEAN with people at the centre, she said.
The VWU would contribute to ASEAN, as well as other regional and international mechanisms, contributing to promoting women’s progress and gender equality, she pledged.
Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative for Việt Nam, said: “I’m delighted to see the priorities that have been given within the first ASEAN Women Leaders’ Summit. Women join forces across ASEAN and beyond. They can have an extraordinary impact on business, peace and peacebuilding.”
“UNDP is honoured to accompany Việt Nam and its women leadership and economic empowerment,” she said.
Ambassador of the Netherlands Elsbeth Akkerman also commended Việt Nam for organising the first ASEAN Women Leaders’ Summit.
“I think it is great that Việt Nam underlines the fact that women can play a very strong role in economic and social development,” she said. — VNS