The video conference was organised for the first time as an initiative of Vietnam to affirm ASEAN leaders’ commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and to enhance the role of women in building the ASEAN Community.

In his remarks, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc highlighted the role played by women and their contributions to humankind’s efforts to respond to challenges and to promote development in each ASEAN member country.

Vietnamese Prime Minster Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) and  Chairwoman of the Vietnamese National Assembly  Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan at an ASEAN Leader’s Special Session as part of the 36th ASEAN Summit on Women’s Empowerment in the Digital Age (Photo: VNA)

There remains inequality and discrimination against women, however, which inhibits their development and contributions to the community, he said. 

The PM underlined the need for ASEAN to take action to utilise women’s potential and create conditions for them to use their strengths and contribute to development in regional countries in particular and the ASEAN Community in general, especially in the digital age.

According to the UN, women make up only 2 percent of the total number of negotiators and mediators in the world but are indispensable in cooperative processes that help create sustainable peace and security, he said.

The ASEAN Community has affirmed its goal of developing into a community in which everyone is treated equally and the rights of women are promoted and protected, PM Phuc stressed.

ASEAN members have effectively implemented plans and programmes as well as mechanisms on women, towards building a people-centred ASEAN Community, he said.

Addressing the gathering, Chairwoman of the Vietnamese National Assembly  Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, who is also Chair of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41), highly valued the initiatives and strong commitment of ASEAN in promoting the role and rights of women and women’s empowerment in the digital age.

She proposed measures to make progress more effective in the future.

Ngan expressed her belief that ASEAN will continue to take advantage of the region with the world's fast internet growth to enhance the position of women, especially those in charge of leader positions, thus contributing to ensuring gender equality.

For his part, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi underlined the significance and timing of the session as it takes place amid challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The special session not only reaffirms ASEAN’s commitments to realising equality for all but also shines a light on the indispensable role of women as drivers of urgent change in the digital age, he said.

Participants discussed measures to promote and uphold the role and contributions of women as well as women’s empowerment in the digital age, and how to facilitate their participation in building an ASEAN Community based on the three pillars of politics-security, economy, and socio-culture.

Ways were also sought to promote ASEAN women’s effective contributions to efforts to maintain peace, security, stability, sustainable development, and multilateral cooperation in countries and the region./.

CPV/VNA